Ten years ago I went to interview a bloke called Lord Neidpath. He is an aristocrat who owns Stanway House. His Lorship wanted to publicise the amazing single-jet fountain at the house. It's a big old thing that goes a long way up in the air.
I did my research and discovered that Lord Neidpath (a) is one of UKIP's backers and (b) was once into trepanation (the drilling of holes in the head).
Arriving at the ancestral seat, I was ushered down a long corridor into his Lordship's study. I was then asked: "Now then, what is it that you want to talk about?" This was a strange question given that the interview had been set up by a PR. I said that I was here to write a nice profile piece to publicise the rock 'n' roll new fountain. I also said that I'd done some background reading and was interested in his Lordship's experience of trepanation.
Lord Neidpath then said: "Right, you have to go. We have to terminate the interview at once."
Pardon? said I.
"That's it, the interview is over. I had some chap from the Telegraph here the other day. Seemed nice enough, like you, but I made it clear that we weren't going to talk about that. Then he wrote about it."
I promise not to write about trepanation, said I. We won't talk about it at all.
"No, it's no good. Come on, out."
I was miffed. I'd driven two hours to get to Stanway House and being summarily ejected after about three polite sentences was a waste of my time. I tried one more tactic.
I'm a solicitor by trade, I said. I'll give you an undertaking as a solicitor that I will not write about trepanation at all. An undertaking is a serious thing!
"No. Come out, out."
With that, his Lordship took me back down the long corridor, opened the door and chucked me out. As I went I said to him: "Well, this has been a complete waste of my time but I don't suppose you care about that." Lord Neidpath tutted dismissively and said you can't trust journalists.
I was thinking about this incident earlier this morning when my thoughts turned to UKIP. I hate UKIP. They're such a bunch of tossers.
So I thought I'd write about what happened, again. It was, after all, covered by The Times with the text below, under the immortal headline:
Lord’s questioner as popular as a hole in the head
LORD NEIDPATH, who once taught international relations to the former US President Bill Clinton, is happy to talk about Stanway House, his Gloucestershire ancestral seat, which is, for at least a couple of months, open to the public.
But he’s not so happy to talk about his past, and specifically, trepanation, the 1960s fad of drilling holes in one’s head to induce feelings of wellbeing, in which the good lord indulged in his more carefree youth.
A journalist for one of the Cotswolds county magazines, was shown the door when he dared to mention the dread subject. “I’m afraid we have to terminate the interview at once,” said Lord Neidpath. The intrepid hack promised that he would refrain from all such questioning, to no avail. “You can never trust a journalist,” said Neidpath, ushering the poor fellow from the house.
Pictured courtesy of Wikipedia: a head.