The good, the bad and the ugly


WRONGLY ACCUSED: Lord Bramall must receive an apology from police


I had the pleasure of the company of Lord Bramall on various occasions during the ‘90s and the thought that this decent, brave man would have attended pool parties with Jimmy Savile (one of more bizarre allegations by ‘Nick’, his accuser) is so preposterous as to be totally surreal. I mean, think about it: Jimmy Bloody Savile frolicking with the man who would soon be head of the British Army and one of last appointed Field Marshals before the rank was abolished. Bleached blond hair, all bling and shell suit fraternising for all the wrong reasons with the holder of the Military Cross, a future lord lieutenant of Greater London and MCC president? Oh please!

But you don’t have to have met Dwin Bramall to know that this is the stuff of the crazed and wicked imagination of the accuser. So why did the Met Police, whose judgment grows increasingly suspect as each day passes, allow this brave man of 92 to suffer a year of suspicion, innuendo, leaks and investigation? To have had his house searched while his wife Avril was dying of cancer? And why, if they are rightly aiming to bring wrong doers to justice, have they not yet charged ‘Nick’ with a host of offences, starting with wasting police time. 

Most of all, why have they still not apologised to Bramall as ACPO’s president Sir Hugh Orde, the best commissioner the Met never had, insists they should.

This all leaves a very nasty taste and it is clear that Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe is not the man to administer the Polo mints.


Incidentally, a few years before I met Lord Bramall, a close friend of mine (of the beautiful variety) was introduced to the creep Savile, at that time ‘writing’ the pop column for the newspaper employing her. Savile invited her to dinner and, assuming he was gay (or queer as we called it then and as gays are now calling themselves) she reluctantly accepted after being bulldozed by both him and her (female) boss. My friend agreed to meet him at his flat in London. To her surprise this turned out to be a small and very seedy joint, which she seems to remember was in King’s Cross or in an equally run down red light area. Savile answered the door wearing a towel and instantly jumped on her – and it has to be said jumped off when she made it clear that she was definitely not on the menu that evening.

My friend was 22 at the time and Savile 42. Following all that we now know about this appalling man, she is convinced that he realised she was far too old for him. By at least 10 years…


Talking as we were earlier about verbal irritations, another which goes straight to the top of the offenders’ list is the way in which people begin their answer to a question with the word ‘So’. As in Q: “Have you stopped beating your wife?” A: “So the last time I gave her a damned good thrashing etc etc…”

What fascinates me is the genesis of this very affected way of answering a straight question. Recently some twerp (an academic if I recall) being questioned on the Today programme began every answer in this fashion. But who started it. And why? It’s not that it’s a way not to answer the question, as in the classic politician response: “I’m glad you asked me that Sarah, so let me be absolutely clear…” If anyone can come up with the origins, please let me know.


Not all unusual usage of the English language raises my temperature. Geordies often qualify a statement with the word ‘but’ at the end, rather than the beginning of the sentence. “I don’t care if she is a mass murderer, she’s a bonny lass but”. So do the Northern Irish (so they do) who would end the sentence thus: “She’s quare and fit but” Or “She’s brave fit but”, both words meaning good. As I may have mentioned elsewhere, I began what is loosely described as my career on the Belfast News-Letter and worked alongside a reporter just a few months older than me by the name of Larry Nixon. We became good friends (we still are) and the reason I mention him is because he would use ‘but’ at the end of a sentence verbally but never in writing. 

To this day Larry is affectionately known as ‘Dead On Bish’. And here I do know the origins. When Aldergove airport, the current Belfast International , was being enlarged, a new flight path was necessary and this meant planes would in future be flying low over the Bishop of Connor’s palace. Larry was told to ring him and so he could take notes more easily used one of the speaker phones in the reporters’ room. When his lordship declared that he was none-too-happy about this new arrangement (and Larry realised he had got himself a story) our hero replied; “Och, that’s dead on bish, just dead on!” (has to be said with a broad Belfast accent). Collapse of fellow reporters and near seizure of the news editor, the late great David Kirk. And a page lead the following morning. 


© 2005-2022 Alastair McIntyre