The Tory Leadership stakes have risen dramatically in the last 24 hours, with more and more candidates confessing to past illegal drug-use, writes Archery, Bridge, Hare-Jugging, Real Tennis, Topological Homeomorphism and Political Correspondent, Claire de Lune.
It was Rory Stewart who opened the floodgates when he revealed that he had smoked opium in his youth. "It was when I found myself wandering around Afghanistan that I knew I had made a dreadful mistake", Stewart admitted. "I had been at a shepherd's meet in North Lakeland and just went outside for a quick smoke. I awoke a week later in a pool of dried vomit in the Wakhan Corridor, with a local tribesman wearing my moleskin trousers. However, this would not prevent me from becoming an effective Prime Minister with a keen sense of the road ahead."
Since then there has been a continuous stream of revelations. It might almost be said that the possession of a narcotic bent has become de rigeur in the arsenal of aspirants to the leadership.
Yesterday, Conservative Central office was shaken by the news that Thomas De Quincey, 234, had thrown his hat into the ring, unashamedly confessing to a life of opium consumption. De Quincey even has a book - Confessions of an English Opium-Eater - detailing his debaucheries, in which he appears to extol the virtues of opium:
Oh! just, subtle, and mighty opium! that to the hearts of poor and rich alike, for the wounds that will never heal, and for 'the pangs that tempt the spirit to rebel,' bringest an assuaging balm
Speaking to the BBC yesterday, De Quincey said, of a typical opium-eating session, that:
"Space swelled, and was amplified to an extent of unutterable infinity. This, however, did not disturb me so much as the vast expansion of time; I sometimes seemed to have lived for 70 or 100 years in one night; nay, sometimes had feelings representative of a millennium passed in that time, or, however, of a duration far beyond the limits of any human experience.
"This, far from disqualifying me in the leadership contest, would stand me in good stead in those endless parliamentary debates and Brexit negotiations and having to put up with the likes of Boris Johnson and Michael Gove."
Hard on the heels of De Quincey's bombshell yesterday, came the shock news that Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 247, has stepped into the ring. Coleridge, whose poem Kubla Khan was famously written under the influence of opium, might be thought an unsuitable candidate for the role given the twin impediments of his lifelong addiction to laudanum and his death in 1834.
However, Coleridge supporter Thomas Carlyle, was defiant, yesterday, suggesting that Coleridge would bring a unique perspective on the turbulent world of British politics:
Coleridge sat on the brow of Highgate Hill, in those years, looking down on London and its smoke-tumult, like a sage escaped from the inanity of life's battle ..
When pressed on the vexed question of Coleridge's death, Carlyle retorted: "that did not impede the performance of Harold McMillan or Alec Douglas-Home" - though critics are pointing to the fact that Carlyle himself, having died in 1881, is hardly an unbiased commentator.
But surely with the emergence of Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards, 210, as a candidate, the Tory leadership contest has plumbed new depths.
At a press conference yesterday, Richards said:
"I was a junkie for ten years. I didn't have a problem with drugs, I had a problem with the police, man. These cats, man, Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, those cats, yeah. These are tough cats, man. You need to have lived on the road to keep up with these cats. It's the blues, man. What yer gonna do? It's gotta be better than tryin' to work with Mick, man. I always say that Mick - he's a great bunch of guys. So is Jeremy Corbyn, yeah? And if you've worked with Chuck Berry, man, you can deal with any shit, like Nigel Farage, baby."