Ann moves to the write
MORE than 400 women packed the Burgess Hall in St Ives yesterday (Tuesday) to hear Ann Widdecombe speak on her life and times and sign her latest book. Ms Widdecombe, the most famous virgin since Elizabeth I and a former minister for prisons, told the a
MORE than 400 women packed the Burgess Hall in St Ives yesterday (Tuesday) to hear Ann Widdecombe speak on her life and times and sign her latest book.
Ms Widdecombe, the most famous virgin since Elizabeth I and a former minister for prisons, told the audience that people were cynical when celebrities wrote novels.
"I wrote my first book at 10," she said. "It was called Forest Trek. It was about the victims of a plane crash who had to find their way out of the forest to survive - none of them did. When people said The Clematis Tree was a hard read, I said you should have read Forest Trek."
The latest novel is called An Act of Treachery. Set in 1940, it is the story of a young French girl who falls in love with a married German officer.
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The experienced public speaker who was as natural as any of her audience would be speaking over a garden fence - and who had the air of being equally confiding - was addressing the annual general meeting of Huntingdon Federation of the Women's Institute.
Speaking without notes, she began by regaling them in her jolly hockey-sticks, strident style with stories of previous speaking disasters.
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There was the time, she recalled, when after "a marvellous five-course lunch" one of her audience had nodded off pretty immediately after his pudding.
"The theme of the speech was Wake Up and every so often I would say that we had to wake up to something or other and then I would stop for a dramatic pause, into which would flow one of his snores.
"At the end of the speech, he was awoken and reminded that he had to thank me for my speech. He was still waking up and he realised that the whole room now knew that he had been asleep - that he was to thank me for a speech he hadn't heard a word of and that they were waiting to hear how he was going to get out of it.
"He got up and without a moment's hesitation he said: 'Thank you for a dream of a speech.'"
There was another time, she said, when she was invited to speech day at a girls' school when the event was held out on the lawn on a breezy spring day.
"I needed one hand to keep hold of my hat and the other to keep hold of my skirt. That meant I didn't have a hand for my speech which blew across the grass. Matters were made worse when I heard the headmistress call out: girls, girls, hurry up and pick up Miss Widdecombe's rubbish."
The MP for Maidstone and The Weald, she was elected in 1987 and served as a minister in Sir John Major's government - and served more recently as the chairman on I Have Got News for You. She is clearly a sport.
Ms Widdecombe added that she realised said was known for her Christian principles.
"In fact, for one election I had a leaflet headed Christian Principles. One Saturday during the campaign I went into Maidstone and it was absolutely packed. My agent drove in and he was transferring the election literature from his car into mine, when he drove away and I realised he had forgotten to give me the leaflets.
"The whole of Maidstone town centre, heard me cry out: "Brian, come back. I haven't got any Christian Principles. That election my majority went up.