Then & Now: Best of enemies

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1853: Charles Dickens describes a government shuffle in 'Bleak House':

'England has been in a dreadful state for some weeks. Lord Coodle would go out, Sir Thomas Doodle wouldn't come in, and there being nobody in Great Britain (to speak of) except Coodle and Doodle, there has been no Government. It is a mercy that the hostile meeting between those two great men, which at one time seemed inevitable, did not come off; because if both pistols had taken effect and Coodle and Doodle had killed each other, it is to be presumed that England must have waited to be governed until young Coodle and young Doodle, now in frocks and long stockings, were grown up.

'This stupendous national calamity, however, was averted by Lord Coodle's making the timely discovery, that if in the heat of debate he had said that he scorned and despised the whole ignoble career of Sir Thomas Doodle, he had merely meant to say that party differences should never induce him to withold from it the tribute of his warmest admiration; while . . . Sir Thomas Doodle had in his own bosom expressly booked Lord Coodle to go down to posterity as the mirror of virtue and honour.'

27 May, 1993: After an acrimonious meeting in Downing Street, John Major writes to Norman Lamont:

'I believe the economic policies you have followed as Chancellor will be seen to have created the conditions for renewed and sustainable economic growth . . . You have served your country with distinction . . . you have succeeded in reducing (inflation) to the lowest rate for nearly 30 years. That has been an outstanding achievement.'