"I say Chester, look at that paintin' - Norfolk, come and see this paintin' - see those little birds painted in the four-leaf clovers? See the middle one?"
"Yes, Arundell. It's a swallow or martin, I'd say"
"But d'you see? The fellow's forgotten to paint its feet in. The damn thing's got no feet. Looks damn silly"
"I take your point. I'll have a word with the Peers' works superintendant and get some painted on."
Or that at least is how I imagine Herbert's portrait of Pugin that hangs in the Tea Room was defaced at some time in the past when feet were added to Pugin's family emblem, the mythological Martlet, famously footless in legend. Today, as Lords Hanningfield and Taylor and Baroness Uddin contemplate tucking into the full cream tea with House champagne (£16.75) in the Pugin Room, they might contemplate how easy it is for some people to regain their feet.
Yes, Hanningfield and Taylor, those peers jailed for theft of £14,000 and £11,000 respectively last year, and Uddin, who was told to repay £125,349 or risk prosecution, are all back in the House of Lords and claiming expenses again, as the Indie reports today.
Rarely can offenders have been rehabilitated so rapidly, and rarely can they go from Prison Canteen to £300 a day attendance allowance plus travelling. Of course, they have to have the front to actually show their faces - and clearly these three have, demonstrating beyond doubt that avarice trumps honour amongst (some) life peers.