The Christmas celebrations at Bonkers Hall are in full swing, aided by a heavy fall of snow that makes the old boy's estate look thoroughly seasonal.
It is a peculiarity of the local climate that one can count upon snow at this time of year, even if it falls nowhere else in England.
All of which means it is time to look back on the old boy's activities over the past year.
For new readers who would like to know about Lord Bonkers and how I met him, I recommend my Liberator article Twenty years of Lord Bonkers (which is now six years old).
The year began in an unfortunate way when my own Twitter account was hacked by the Well-Behaved Orphans:
Februarylord Bonkers is a pie— Jonathan Calder (@lordbonkers) January 10, 2016
Before explaining how the Elves of Rockingham Forest helped him find hedgehogs to cook for Nick Clegg, Lord Bonkers recalled:
"One does not have memories of last year’s general election campaign so much as flashbacks."
He reported from the US State of New Rutland and surveyed the field in its Presidential primaries:
In the Republican contest I put my money on a fellow who rejoiced in the name of ‘Trump’. He goes around in a Boris Johnson fright wig and is the sort of Fascist who would long ago have been debagged and thrown in a stream in the original Rutland, but he is all the rage with the Republicans over here.April
A video of a dancing gorilla at Twycross Zoo in Leicestershire went viral. Our favourite peer explained its origins in the shortage of male partners at the tea dances he puts on in the village hall:
A couple of years ago the ladies prevailed upon me to provide them with more dancing partners. After no little thought, the solution sprang upon me: train the gorillas at Twycross Zoo.
This initiative has proved a great success. When I proposed it some warned me of the danger of ravishment, but I am happy to report that to date no gorilla has complained of molestationMay
This month saw Lord Bonkers meet those bright young Lib Dems Freddie and Fiona at the offices of the Remain campaign:
I ask how their economic liberal think tank is getting on. “It’s going really well.” “Did you go to our fringe meeting at the Lib Dem spring conference?” “It was all about Uber.” “Do you know it? It’s this wonderful app on your phone.” “You can call at taxi any time.” “And if you don’t like the driver you can give him a low score and he loses his livelihood.” “We call it ‘the sharing economy’.”
The old boy offered a characteristically enlightening remark:
"Towcester is a fascinating place. You never know who will pop up next."
While Ryan Coetzee organised a barbecue at the Hall. It was not an unqualified success:
You have no doubt read what happened next in the newspapers. So let me just pay tribute to the doctors and nurses of the Royal Rutland Infirmary for coping with so many cases of food poisoning, and I can honestly say that the Rutland Fire Brigade excelled itself.September
This month found Lord Bonkers hard at work answering his postbag:
Then there are the usual letters from Liberal Democrats around the country. These tend to repeat the same questions, so over the years I have dictated standard replies to them and given each a number.
Today’s required replies are: 1 (“Thank you for your kind words – I enclosed a signed photograph”), 17 (“In such a marginal seat I would recommend the use of the Bonkers Patent Exploding Focus”) and 84 (“Take a cold tub and volunteer for extra delivering”).In his foreword to the new edition of the Liberator songbook, he celebrated the growing revival in the party's fortunes:
Every day brings news of fresh triumphs. Why, only last week I read on Liberal Democrat Voice that we had come second in a parish council election in Cropwell Bishop.
With our clear stance on Europe – exemplified by that splendid new group ‘I’m As Much In Favour Of The EU As The Next Man But Did You See The Referendum Result In My Constituency?’ – I have no doubt that we shall return to government before we grow much older.November
He took us to the re-education camp for former Labour members who have joined the Liberal Democrats that he hosts:
There they spend their days poring over the works of L.T. Hobhouse, priming the week’s production of the Bonkers Patent Exploding Focus (For Use in Marginal Wards) and recanting of their former allegiance in public sessions of self-criticism. Conditions may fairly be described as Spartan, though I was pleased that the recent Red Cross inspection was not wholly critical.
Walking by the camp this morning I came across some Well-Behaved Orphans throwing food parcels over the barbed-wire fence. I thought that a Very Kind Gesture.And, responding to news that a pre-war submarine called 'Lembit' has been restored and is now on display at the Estonian Maritime Museum, he wrote:
If the people of Estonia were to collect scrap metal to pay for the restoration of our own Lembit Opik (who, for all we know, may be abandoned in a river somewhere), I think it would be a Terribly Kind gesture.December
In a year of many sad deaths, one in particular hit home:
Lord Bonkers tells me of his sadness at the passing of Zsa Zsa Gabor: "Rather to my surprise, I find I was never married to her"— Jonathan Calder (@lordbonkers) December 19, 2016