On the Whole It's Been a Lot of Fun by Peter Tinniswood

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BBC Radio 7, 18 January 2010
In HMS Pinafore (1878), Gilbert and Sullivan wrote a song "When I was a Lad" containing the following lines: "I grew so rich that I was sent/ By a pocket borough into Parliament/ I always voted at my party's call/ And I never thought of thinking for myself at all." These lines could have been written for Sir Plympton Makepeace (Maurice Denham), an ageing backbench MP, who spent an entire career doing absolutely nothing, even while considering himself a pillar of the community. In fact, his whole life has been something of a waste of time; he described his marriage as "drudgery and a bit of propinquity," prompting him to embark on a series of increasingly sordid love-affairs.
While Peter Tinniswood's monologue, written especially for Denham, certainly held the attention, I nonetheless felt that it was somehow rather unnecessary. Sir Plympton had a typically sexist view of the world; all his male friends were "chums," while his lovers were portrayed not as human beings but as objects with breasts and thighs rolling "like a lumberjack down a moving river." Eventually he was voted out by - horror of horrors! - a socialist woman called Susan Margaret Walcott, whose convictions only served to emphasize Sir Plympton's empty-headedness. The only defence he could offer was that throughout his long political career, he had not done anything wrong, but he had not done any harm either. But then the same could be said for anyone working in a dead-end job, without the privileges enjoyed by an MP.