This evening I attended the latest in the series of Speaker’s Lectures on eminent parliamentarians. It was given by Shirley Williams – Baroness Williams of Crosby – on Nancy Astor. Baroness Williams was in characteristic form, both in content and in behaviour.
When she was a Cabinet Minister in the 1970s, she had a reputation for being somewhat absent minded. On one occasion, it is claimed, she was rushing to catch a train and was looking for her ticket as she approached a ticket collector. ‘Oh that’s alright’, said the ticket collector, ‘we know who you are’. ‘Oh’, replied the minister, ‘I’m not getting it out for you, I’m getting it out to see where I’m supposed to be going!’
This evening, Baroness Williams opened her lecture, then announced that she had forgotten her glasses, and – when a young man who had disappeared in order to find them did not return – adjourned the lecture so that she could go and retrieve her handbag. Having successfully located it, she then returned to the lectern and completed her fascinating lecture.