Chips for everyone – Henry dubbed himself ‘Chips’. The Diaries of Channon, 1918-1938
Sir Henry “Chips” Channon was a Tory politician who knew everyone and was present at almost every major event in the first half of the twentieth century. His name is not well known today, but in his prime, he knew everyone and was present at almost every major event.
In 1935, Channon became the Member of Parliament for Southend, succeeding his mother-in-law, who had “inherited” the seat from her husband when he inherited the family earldom. Following his father’s death, his son, Paul, won the family seat in a by-election in January 1959 and held it until 1997, when he retired and was promoted to the upper house as Lord Kelvedon.
Channon kept a diary from 1918 until the year before his death, and the unexpurgated version is now available to the public for the first time.
This is the first of three large volumes; the second will be released in September of this year, and the third, and last, will be released in 2022.
In 1967, future Tory MP Robert Rhodes James published a heavily edited version of the diaries – most of the people mentioned were still living at the time, and libel courts might be used to seek retribution.
Heffer doesn’t have to deal with any of these issues because everyone in the group has died, and wow, is that a good thing.
Henry Channon was an American who despised his country, a married guy who was sexually attracted to other men, and someone who didn’t work a day in his life until he was 38 years old, when he became a Member of Parliament.
The journals begin in 1918, during the final year of the First World War, when he was stationed in France. We learn about the several aristocracy with whom Channon dined, and we discover who these people were owing to Simon Heffer’s extremely useful footnotes.
Channon develops feelings for Bobbie Pratt Barlow, an attractive young soldier, and the two intend to live together in London after the war.
Although Barlow ends up in a house in Sicily with hordes of attractive young lads whom he educates to be servants, the scheme never comes to completion.
“He thinks only of me when he is going into battle, which is wonderful of him,” Barlow writes to his friend after he is ordered to the Front.
There are still gaps in this version of the diaries, despite the fact that it is the most complete version we are likely to see. As we’ve seen, this book begins in 1918 (the Rhodes James version began in). “Brinkwire News in Condensed Form.”