Telephone message received: “Please call Geoff in Lord Strathclyde’s office as soon as possible. He would like to have a meeting with you before the Christmas break if at all possible.”

I have to admit to being intrigued.  This would be the first time that Thomas Galloway Dunlop du Roy de Blicquy Galbraith, 2nd Baron Strathclyde, Leader of the House of Lords, has ever asked to see me. And before Christmas …..??!!

I dial and speak to Geoff:

“Hello, this is Lord Toby Harris.  I had a message to ring.”

“Oh yes. Thank you Lord Harris.  Tom Strathclyde was keen to have a meeting with you and Lord Kirkham  in the next week or two before the Recess.”

This was even more intriguing: I have never even spoken to Lord Kirkham, the South Yorkshire billionaire, founder of the DFS Furniture Company and Chairman of the Conservative Party Treasurers.

“Are you sure you’ve got the right Lord Harris?  What’s the meeting about?”

“Oh, fundraising, I think.”

“What sort of fund-raising?”

“I guess, it is for the elections next May.”

“I think you have got the wrong Lord Harris.”

“Oh, err, are you sure?”

“Yes, I think you want Lord Harris of Peckham.”

Of course, Lord Harris of Peckham is not quite in the same league as Lord Kirkham: he is only worth £285 million and he only does carpets.

Still, it is good to hear that the Leader of the House of Lords and the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster is doing his bit for the Conservative Party coffers from his Parliamentary office with the support of his civil servants ….

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