This is from Charles Moore's column in this week's Spectator. Read it, get to the end, and weep.
Too late to tip off obituary writers, I hear of the death earlier this year of Jane Parsons. She ended up being head of the ‘Garden Room girls’ in No. 10 Downing Street. The Garden Room was really the typing pool, but the phrase does nothing like justice to its central importance in what used to be a small household. Jane joined No. 10 in 1946 and left in 1981, so she worked closely with every prime minister from Attlee to Mrs Thatcher. She told me her likes and dislikes. She liked Attlee (though Mrs Attlee accused the Garden Room girls of stealing her knitting), Macmillan, Home, Callaghan and Mrs Thatcher. She disliked Churchill, Eden, Wilson and Heath. Attlee she admired for his modest efficiency. The Macmillans, Homes, Thatchers and, to a lesser degree, the Callaghans made her and her girls feel part of a family. In all those cases, the spouse supported the prime minister very closely, which made it much more fun. Eden was too neurotic. Wilson allowed Marcia Falkender to start treating the Garden Room politically, and she began a persecution of what she called the ‘Tory debs’; Heath was completely cold, and never knew anyone’s name. Churchill, honour though it was to work for him, was the worst. He loved dictating in all hours and places, with a perfect lack of consideration. Jane remembered sitting in Churchill’s car, facing backwards, trying to take down a message to Stalin. Also in the car were Churchill’s pug, Churchill’s overwhelming cigar and Churchill’s budgie, which flew round pooing on her. She felt dreadfully sick, but also much too junior to object. This distinguished public servant died under the care of our wonderful National Health Service, by the way, killed by hospital MRSA after a minor operation.