One hitherto unpublicised example of the genre occurred last week between Steven Norris, vice-chairman of the Conservative party, and a TES journalist (who shall remain nameless for reasons that will later become apparent) on a flight from Manchester to London.
Sadly we cannot share the finer points of our informant's recollection of a wide-ranging conversation, because Mr Norris hotly disputes it in the most unparliamentary of terms - "That f* b*, what a little s***," etc. etc. However, Mr Norris does not dispute that he said:
* Margaret Thatcher was "stark, raving mad" and that "power corrupts and absolute power corruptedMargaret absolutely";
* That it was difficult to criticise Labour transport policy because the Tories did not invest enough in public transport (Mr Norris is a former transport minister);
* That William Hague had been "badly advised" on his baseball cap excursion;
* That Mr Norris didn't want to pay for a private education for his children but state education was in such a poor state he had to;
* That OFSTED criticism of his son's Montessori school because it failed to teach a broad spectrum of faiths in RE was "amusing" since his boy was only two-and-a-half and still playing with crayons.
A volcanic Norris did have two questions to ask us when we rang to check his recollection of the conversation with our man: "What is his name and where does he live?"