The MP and the wardrobe
It’s a great story but a few years late. Below is my version of it from my book the Unusual Suspect published in 2010.
Today’s Guardian prints Lord Waddington’s version from a new book. Matthew Parris has also published another version of the tale.
From the Unusual Suspect.
After Windsor MP Alan Glyn had adopted me as his pair in 1987 he trained me in the seamy by-ways of parliament’s social life. By then he was past his best. After a creditable, colourful career as a distinguished soldier and GP, his life had settled into a comfortable routine of idle self-indulgence.
Being an MP had become a tiresome habit as familiar and dreary as pulling on an old boot. Each day was a slow slide into an amiable alcoholic haze, enlivened by regular embassy receptions, visits abroad and the occasional re-recital of his speech on defence. He delivered it year after year with hardly a syllable being changed. He dreamt of elevation to the House of Lords with his Windsor parliamentary seat passing on to a member of his family. He was fobbed off with a knighthood in exchange for his resignation from parliament. Like most politicians he was disappointed with his career. It was a familiar story. His ambitions were beyond what was practically attainable.
He was in his early seventies but he looked about 110. Late nights and a prodigious consumption of fines wines and food had weakened Alan Glyn’s constitution. For the final twenty years of his life he teetered on the brink of survival. His friends thought they had a tragedy on their hands during a by-election campaign. A Tory team of senior MPs, including Alan, had booked into a hotel in the constituency ready to be on parade early next morning. Alan was put to bed before midnight with brain and body generously alcoholised.
Not unexpectedly he failed to appear for breakfast next morning. Phone calls to his room were not answered. Alarmed that the old buffer might have finally given up the ghost, his friends hammered on the door. Even that failed to rouse him. The hotel’s master key was tried. The door unlocked but would not budge. Could the object that was blocking it be Alan’s body? Had he finally succumbed to the ravages of age, alcohol and heart trouble? Reverentially the door was inched open. The obstruction was a fallen wardrobe. There was no sign of Alan. They searched the bathroom, under the bed, behind the curtains. How could he have left the room with the door blocked? Inexplicable. They heard snoring. It was coming from the fallen wardrobe. Alan was inside. He never provided a plausible account of the night’s adventure. The favoured explanation is that he needed the bathroom in the middle of the night. In the confusion of an unfamiliar room, he mistook the wardrobe door for the bathroom door. No one was sufficiently indelicate to inquire what happened inside. But his struggles to get out toppled the wardrobe.
Hours later Alan was still inside sleeping like a baby
This is today’s version in the Guardian.
• Much amusement to be had, meanwhile, from the memoirs of the former home secretary David Waddington. He always presented as a dry stick, but given free rein and away from Baroness Thatcher's gaze, he emerges as a seasoned gossip. There is a tale of the late Sir Alan Glyn, the former Tory MP for Windsor and Maidenhead, who – ever the model of proactivity – summoned a group of young Tories to go canvassing with him. "They duly turned up, but there was no Dr Glyn," recalls Waddington. "Eventually a search party went up to his room. There was no immediate sign of him, but there was an old-fashioned wardrobe lying face down on the floor – and the team set about restoring it to an upright position. Underneath it they discovered the good doctor. In the middle of the night, he had set off to go to the lavatory, but instead of going through the door into the bathroom, he had found his way into the cupboard. The cupboard had fallen over, trapping him inside – and he had spent the rest of the night there." He should, perhaps, have called for help. But the good Tory fends for himself.