Former Chief Whip Andrew ‘Thrasher’ Mitchell has been reflecting on his salad days. In an interview with Cambridge University’s alumni magazine, which one presumes was given some time before the row with a Downing Street police officer which ended his career, Mitchell recalls his arrival at Jesus College in 1975:
‘I came here straight out of the army – literally direct from Brize Norton. I drove up with my four boxes of worldly possessions, unpacked and then lay on the bed.’
That army career (an eight-month short service commission after leaving Rugby School), gets multiple mentions: ‘having arrived straight from the army’ he ‘had very short hair [and] stood up straight.’
Military men always stick together. Mitchell describes how his Head Porter, a ‘wonderful man’ called Regimental Sergeant Major West, would say to him:
‘All these loutish students! At least you stand up straight, sir.’
It couldn’t last. Mitchell confesses:
‘By the time I had been in Cambridge six months, my hair was long, I slouched. I was such a disappointment to him.’
Poor Sergeant Major West must be devastated if he’s still around today.