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RIP Lord St John of Fawsley, former cabinet minister, barrister, aesthete, amateur constitutional historian, Roman Catholic, staunch monarchist, arts administrator, author, journalist and subject of the most colourful obituaries in recent memory.
As Norman St John-Stevas, he provoked the ire of then-prime minister Margaret Thatcher by crafting a series of nicknames for her including "Tina" (from her arguments that "there is no alternative"), "the blessed Margaret", "the leaderene" and "she who must be obeyed".
Although his short tenure in government, during which he set up the select committee system, left a lasting impact on British politics, he will surely be remembered, in the words of the Guardian's Simon Hoggart, as the "thinking man's Larry Grayson". The paper records solemnly how he owned "a white Jaguar and a white Rolls Royce which he would drive to Westminster, occasionally dropping off flowers for the Queen Mother at Clarence House en route".
The Times notes that his love of royalty extended to the bric-a-brac around his house: "He had a photograph of Princess Margaret in a silver frame on his bedside table, and one wall was adorned by a framed pair of Queen Victoria's stockings." But, nonetheless, it notes that his mannerisms were decidedly Roman. "He was prone to proferring his hand in papal fashion, lapsing into Latin and deliberately mispronouncing modern words."
An anecdote in the Daily Telegraph gives further flavour of his character:
He liked to tell the story of how he asked to be excused from a meeting because he had a reception to go to. "But I'm going to the same function," protested Mrs Thatcher. "Yes, but it takes me so much longer to change," replied St John-Stevas.
It also celebrates his love of rank and ceremony:
"The trouble with you, Norman," one listener complained, "is that you're such a compulsive name dropper." "The Queen said exactly the same to me yesterday," came the rejoinder.
Even the relatively puritan Daily Mail looks back on the peer fondly, recalling a time when he outraged BBC Radio Two's Jimmy Young by breaking off a live radio interview to answer a knock on his front door. "It's the man from Harrods come to fix my new curtains," he explained.
He used to cox a Cambridge crew in a top hat, white tie and tails and was once genuinely upset when he arrived at an occasion in a red cloak, only to find he had been upstaged by someone in a purple one.
After leaving office he went on to serve as chairman of the Fine Art Commission and Master of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, where, according to the Times, "he lavishly upgraded the Master's Lodge and a group of his friends were once caught skinny-dipping in the Fellows' swimming pool".
Paper Monitor salutes the memory of a man who was always, throughout his life, good copy.