As those MP's who are not planning to stand again announce their retirement, I recall the process of transition in North West Hants, when my predecessor Sir David Mitchell said in 1995 he was standing down. In the interval between my adoption in November that year and the General Election in 1997, no one could have been kinder than he in introducing me to the electorate.
We toured every branch of our great Party, at which Sir David would introduce me with the same joke. No one heard it twice, apart from me. And I heard it about 60 times. As the weeks grew by, I became fond of it and each time Sir David told his story, I would retaliate with an identical one of my own. We toured the constituency with our duet..
To commemorate this exchange and the smooth transition, I commissioned David Butler to encapsulate in a cartoon the two stories, against a North West Hampshire background. It is above; but it is possible that it might not be understood without the relevant narratives.
Sir David. "The Parochial Church Council was having difficulty chosing a new Vicar. The candidates were too high, too low, too young or too old. Eventually the Bishop showed some impatience and came to a meeting of the PCC. He opened it with a prayer. "O Lord, please bestow upon this parish the succour it so clearly deserves." At which point, Sir David would wave towards me "And this is the sucker you so clearly deserve."
This would be my cue to respond.
Sir George. "Sir David's amusing and original story reminds me of the Victorian circus proprietor, whose star performer was the human cannonball. People travelled miles to witness him propelled hundreds of yards through the air. One day, sadly, the men with the net misjudged his velocity and the human missile expired. Told of the tragedy, the proprietor commented "How sad; we will never find a man of the same calibre."
At which point, I would bow with reverence to Sir David, and repeat the proprietor's words.