"I could happily have stayed for a fortnight."

by Stephen Tall on April 20, 2007

Sad news: Terry Major-Ball, brother of the last Conservative Prime Minister, Sir John Major, has died, aged 75.

Terry wrote a uniquely understated autobiography, Major Major: Memories of an Older Bother, which was garlanded by Private Eye (with equal amounts of irony and affection): “It makes you proud to be English. No foreigner could dream of such a masterpiece. It is one of the most distinctive products of our great civilisation.”

Here’s a sample passage, as Terry describes his first trip in an aeroplane, aged 61:

Although it was strange, there was something reassuringly familiar. It was a bit like sitting in an armchair at home, watching the telly and having my food brought to me on a tray (though I don’t really expect this kind of treatment from my wife), the big difference being that I didn’t have to worry about doing the washing up afterwards, or boiling the kettle and getting the tea. The service was marvellous, especially when you see the tiny kitchen. The piece of cod I had melted in the mouth, and the sauce was delicious.

His verdict at the conclusion of his trip to New York? “I could happily have stayed for a fortnight.”

Sir John, then plain Mr Major, was at least as impressed by his older brother’s traveller’s tales:

The next time I saw John I told him about my experiences and he listened politely and with genuine interest.

Then he said, ‘Sorry, Terry, I must go now. I’m due at a meeting, in the Cabinet Room.’

You can buy it for £0.01 here at Amazon.co.uk. Worth every penny, genuinely.