Former Oxford East MP Steve Norris and fellow Tory David Mellor were strutting the lawns at Grange Park last Friday wearing white dinner jackets. It therefore hardly needed the estate owner Lord Ashburton to point out that such garments were “always the trademark of a cad”. This observation attracted loud laughter during his curtain-raising speech before Richard Strauss’s Capriccio — a traditional part of Grange Park entertainment in which he and GPO chief executive Wasfi Kani OBE come across as a well-rehearsed comedy double act.

Lord A., you see, was himself wearing a white dinner jacket. “It’s sometimes nice to be a cad,” he told his audience. It was unclear whether this sentiment was shared by his delightful black labrador Ellie, whose dutiful onstage appearances with her master have long been another Grange Park tradition.

One suspects, perhaps, that his lordship takes a similar approach in the matter of what is socially acceptable to that of Osbert Lancaster’s cartoon heroine Lady Littlehampton. As Paul Johnson reminds readers of his enjoyable new book Brief Lives (Hutchinson, £20), the magnificent Maudie’s attitude to the ‘U, non-U’ debate of the 1950s was: “What I say is, if it’s me, it’s U.”