The Angry Corrie 16: Dec 1993-Jan 1994

Hill Diaries: Tony Benn

Tuesday, 7th April 1966

Cabinet with Harold, Denis,George Brown et al, followed by working lunch over at the Ministry. Harold phoned to talk over my proposed sabbatical thing. He really is being most obstructive. Six months is all I ask, just enough time to scrape past 200 Munros, but no, he insists I stay on full time here. The country will simply not find it credible, he says, that one day you are fit and healthy, the next you vanish from the public eye "For reasons of ill-health", just so you can run about up north amongst eagles and stags and your tweedy forbears. So that is that. I have to stay wearing this bloody postman's uniform rather than a nice green cagoule and a pair of gaiters. And the pipe is so handy for keeping midges at bay too. The queen could have a full frontal of herself on the stamps for all I care.

Later, down to Stansgate for a working supper, then spoke to the Fabians. All the usual faces - Barbara, Tony Crosland, Tommy Balogh, Peter Shore along with a newly-elected MP, John Smith. Afterwards, over tea and fig rolls, he told me of his recent traverses of An Teallach and the major Torridons. I was deeply envious - not just of his non-ministerial freedom to roam, but of his slim, hill-honed build, not an ounce of spare flesh on him.

Occasionally, on fresh, sunlit days such as this, cooped in smoke-filled rooms, I wonder why on earth I disclaimed my peerage. Oh to be in Scotland now the springtime is here! The burden of democracy hangs heavy sometimes.

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