Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Gentle Games

This week I had intended to - rather pretentiously - write a heartfelt discourse on the circle of life. What with people getting married and relatives having babies over the weekend it was all making my lower lip slightly too wobbly for comfort.

Fortunately, my laptop's decision to unceremoniously die leaving me without easy access to either word processing resources or the glorious world wide web, as nobody calls it anymore, has saved us all from a barrage of over-sentimentality.

However, such is my dedication to David Marston Writes that I'm sitting at public access computers at work writing this and hoping no-one's looking over my shoulder.

Therefore, without further ado, I present a short little ditty in the style of Craig Taylor's much missed 1,000,000 Tiny Plays About Britain:

At the sweaty halfway point of a bank holiday three men sit amongst the aftermath of a garden barbecue somewhere in Southern England's suburbia. For the sake of argument their names are Chunks, Hunks and Spunks.

Hunks: We could play cricket.

Spunks: It's a bit of a bumpy lawn.

Chunks: We don't own any stumps.

Hunks: I meant French cricket.

Chunks: Or a bat.

Spunks: There's not room, is there? It's too narrow, really. You wouldn't want to make a diving catch. You might end up speared on a fence post.

Hunks: Were you really planning on making a diving catch?

Chunks: I'm not completely convinced a lack of space is the principle obstacle here.

Hunks: What about badminton?

Spunks: I think we're going to encounter similar problems of there being more things in the way than clear runs.

Hunks: Boules?

Spunks: Ah, mais oui. C'est bien.

Chunks: Ou es le gare?

Hunks: Ca va?

Spunks: On y va.

Chunks: Le baton!

Hunks: Ca va bien.

Spunks: On y va!

Chunks: Le chat sur la table.

Hunks: Je ne comprends pas.

Spunks: On y va!

Several cliche filled minutes later.

Spunks: Boules? Could do, could do.

Chunks: We don't have a boules set?

Hunks: But do we have any onions?

Chunks: Onions?

Hunks: They're French enough.

Spunks: We'd need to wear stripey jumpers and berets.

Hunks: It's a bit hot.

Chunks: What about the jack? We'd need something more clearly different than just a small onion.

Hunks: A garlic?

Chunks: How about this moldy old lemon?

And as the onions gently sailed through the air slowly shedding their skin thasnks to the grssy abrasions, sending up occasional puffs of citrus juice upon collision with the jack and leaving increasingly pungent smells on the fingers of the three men the sunshine continued slowly turning the world into a calm and pleasant place.

As PG Wodehouse's Wooster was keen on misquoting: God was in his Heaven and all seemed to be right with the world.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Sorry is sometimes too easy

I have this memory of an event I may not have actually been involved in. Which, in itself, is a little weird, but bear with me. I can see it, perfectly, in front my mind’s eye, yet there is the possibility that this is someone’s else past.


Anyway, if this is my history then it was when I was a tourist to London rather than a resident. We were walking through Parliament Square, me, my then girlfriend, her flatmate and the flatmate’s boyfriend. I may well have been pompously holding forth (as is oft my want) on the irony that the only statues outside the Houses of Parliament are of Richard I (majestically atop his horse, sword arm held high) and Oliver Cromwell (moodily looking at his feet).

We may have been a few drinks to the wild for suddenly flatmate’s boyfriend hurled himself at the fence and started to climb whilst (clearly slightly lost) bellowing out sub-standard Welsh indie-rockers Catatonia’s Storm the Palace. As this was pre-global terrorism flatmate’s boyfriend wasn’t shot. Instead, he was forcibly instructed to ‘go home and sleep it off, sunshine’.

Meek we may have been, but just for a moment (for we were young and naive) there was the prospect of tearing down the system, of starting everything afresh. But taking off those rose-tinted glasses I wore back then and replacing them with a pair of sceptical spectacles two things struck me. One, at the time I wasn’t aware of any alternative and two, every generation goes through its young and angry phase where it feels like we’re the only ones who ‘get it’, whatever ‘it’ may be, but in order to instigate real change the whole country would have to be united in anger, a moment of uniform indignation. I couldn’t foresee how this could come about.

Hell, if an illegal immoral war couldn’t do it, what could possibly bring everyone together?

Heh, it’s always the money, isn’t it?

Feel the public’s rage, listen to the anger with every news broadcast, every copy the Telegraph printed, every feeble attempt to excuse themselves.

Chandeliers, private security, moat cleaning, helipad tidying, hanging baskets, dog food, horse shit, scatter cushions and a disco ball (for Menzies Campbell, no less), dry rot, unnecessary rent, non-existent mortgage claims.

Initially, I was disappointed that what finally united our ire was money. But then it dawned on me. It isn’t, is it? Not really. It’s more the arrogance of people like Margaret Beckett saying that the ordinary people cannot possibly understand what it’s like to be a MP. Or the way diddy Hazel Blears can dash off a cheque for thirteen grand and waft it around like it doesn’t really matter, suggesting she has more than enough money in the first place. Or the continual insincere apologies and feeble attempts at blaming it on the system.

Which is a bit like a murderer saying ‘it wasn’t my fault. I just pointed the gun at her head and pulled the trigger. The real blame lies with Smith and Weston for designing guns that fire bullets that kill people.’

All systems are open to abuse and manipulation should you know how to play the game. When I worked for a large publishing house we were paid commission on advertising booked, but not that which was necessarily paid for. In other words, if the advertiser went bust or the advert had to be given free of charge due a production error then the rep would still get paid, even if my employers hadn’t been. In addition, with the ridiculously tight weekly schedule, that there wasn’t much emphasis placed on getting a signed contract. Bookings were taken with confidence purely on the back of a hurried phone conversation with nothing in writing to support to it. Clearly, this was open to abuse, but just because you could cheat didn’t mean you should - or indeed, to the best my knowledge, that anyone actually did.

If there’s one group of people whom you would hope to have the moral judgement to distinguish between what they can do and what they should do, it would be those who have put themselves forward to run the country.

Or am I still naive?

The thing that really grates at my spine is all the apologising. You’re not sorry. Stop lying to me. You might be sorry that you got caught and I suspect you’ll be extremely sorry about the repercussions, but you are not genuinely sorry about the act itself. Otherwise you wouldn’t have done it again and again, year upon year.

And on that point will someone please shut David Cameron up? If I hear him or one of the Davolytes refuse to discuss the question posed to them and instead whine on about how swiftly Cameron has moved to punish Tory offenders then I may well eat my own face. Cameron has been leader of the opposition for four years and an MP since 2001. If he really felt that the expenses system was rotten, then he’s had an awful lot of time to do something about it before now. But he didn’t. He left it until after the shit storm blew into town and is now feebly trying to make himself look noble and indignant. Hell, he must have breathed a sigh of relief when it enabled the Tories to drop their euro-elections party political broadcast on Friday (‘Um, ah, yes, you see we haven’t actually decided our policy on Europe as yet. Same as everything else, really. But, hey, remember we’re not Labour.’) and make yet another sanctimonious speech about how god-dammed arse-fucking sorry he is.

By Monday evening MPs were falling over themselves to slit Michael Martin’s throat and tear out his tongue thus creating the need for a new speaker. The term ‘sacrificial lamb’ doesn’t seem sufficient.

‘Oh, but he oversaw the system and so it’s all his fault! Wah-wah-wah.’

All right, so the fey, high-pitched bleating (‘eh-eh-eh-ehrder’) plonker should go. Why not? Might as well, but he isn’t enough.

Labour MP Ben Chapman has been claiming that as the commons office approved his claim for fifteen thousand for interest on a mortgage he’d already paid off, and that it’s their fault not his. (Although, of course, he is sorry. Really, really, sorry.) But Ben, come on now. You’re a grown man. YOU had to make the claim in the first place. YOU had to fill out the form. YOU accepted the money when it crash landed in your bank account. At what point were you going to say, ‘er, I say, I don’t think is quite cricket’?

Lembit Opik. Jesus. A Liberal Democrat MP whose judgement should have been question when he tried to marry a Cheeky Girl had the gall to charge to the tax payer his £40 summons fee for non-payment of council tax. What planet is this twat on?

‘Sorry,’ shrugged cheeky Jack Straw ‘guess accountancy isn’t my strong point.’ This is coming from a member of the cabinet who at one point was angling to be chancellor.

Well, I’d like to bet that accountancy isn’t a strong point of a whole load of people claiming benefits either. But thanks to a zero tolerance policy against benefit fraud it is entirely possible to go to prison for claiming benefits without realising you weren’t entitled to them. Even if they offer to pay them back.

So, as the fraud squad swings into the halls of Westminster with a remit to investigate at least five of the formerly honourable members you can’t help but feel that should there ever be an opportunity for wholesale change, then this is it.

When I tended bar during the 2001 elections one of the regulars grunted: ‘Nah, I never bother voting. It doesn’t make any difference anyway. They’re all the same, anyway.’ Could we change that now?

And I don’t mean just by reforming the way MPs are paid. A basic salary of nearly £65,000 for a backbencher is quite sufficient really. After all, you chose to stand for election.

‘Oh, but you don’t underst-‘ SHUT UP!

Don’t understand what? I can think, in five minutes, of a roughly workable expenses system that seems fairer – the state builds high quality, en-suite, kitchenette fitted accommodation blocks in central London for MPs who have a commute of more than an hour by car (let’s be generous and factor in a reasonable amount of London traffic craziness, so basically anyone outside the M25) plus continuing to maintain the existing grace and favour homes for key members of the cabinet thus minimising the threat from terrorism and all MPs in the same building (although, they do all work in the same building...) and then agree a rate for commuting between constituencies and Westminster, say twice a week when Parliament is sitting, by something sensible like the train or a Vauxhall Vectra (not a chauffeur driven limo down from Chester, George Osborne) and then they can pay for everything else themselves – when I was on the road I got money for the miles I drove, but not for the coffee I drank, the newspapers I read or the disgusting, overpriced service station food I was forced to eat.

But anyway, that isn’t what I meant. I meant, have, by a near-universal lack of sense and morals, all the mainstream parties given us a remit to get rid of them all?
The only problem is, eight years on since storm-the-next-authoritarian-building-gate and I still can’t think if a workable alternative.

Which is why it was important that I was honest with you at the beginning of this piece. I could have just told the story of flatmate’s boyfriend’s brush with the revolutionary spirits as a nice dramatic opening, but it might not have actually happened like that. Why can’t I remember whether I was there or not? It was a long time ago (Christ, I’m using Catatonia as a cultural reference it was that long ago) and I’ve done a lot and had a lot of drinks in the meantime, but it doesn’t matter why – the point is that it highlights my agenda. I’m shoehorning it in because I’m suggesting we man the barricades, tear up the cobblestones and break open the bastille, although to what end I have no idea, and it’s vital for you to remember that every opinion is grounded in a personal history and current circumstance including that the millionaire tax exile owners of the Daily Telegraph.

So, if I doubt we’ve the stomach to start from scratch, even if we knew how, then is there an alternative? Strike a protest vote in the European elections (‘give the fat cats in London a message’) and support marginal parties? Where does that get us? UKIP (members expelled for holocaust denial and fraud), the English Democrats (bunch of berks) or the BNP (dear God, Jesus no, we’re not that stupid are we?)?
Don’t panic, though, here comes Esther bloody Rantzen to stand for Parliament in Luton next year.

Meanwhile, whilst we tut and scoff and rant and rave in pubs and lounges and cafes and in phone conversations and on social networking websites and poorly informed blogs, Parliament, or Parliament Square at least, has been bought to a standstill. Someone is doing something. It’s a sit down protest over the government’s inability to shout loudly enough as the Sri Lankan army shells its own civilians in a relentless pursuit of the Tamil Tigers.

Twenty-six years of terror and civil war. Over eighty thousand dead.

Makes getting so annoyed about a fat bloke in Hull needing two toilet seats repaired seem pretty pathetic, doesn’t it?

Tuesday, 12 May 2009


“I’ve got a reeeee-aaally pooooorly throat,” someone croaked down the phone to me recently and then coughed miserably for emphasis.

Someone else had stopped off briefly in Mexico on the loop home and before they could even complain of stiffness, heavy limbs, mild headaches or internal throbs they were whisked away for a brief sojourn in quarantine until the all-clear klaxon announced that the cage was opening and they staggered blinking back into the sunlight.

I was packed into a commuter train last Tuesday morning and for some reason the heaters were running at maximum. Wafts of hot air belched their way through the carriage followed each time by the death-hacks on a man pressing an insufficient handkerchief to his mouth. Every few seconds he ripped phlegm up his larynx, swilled it around his mouth before noisily swallowing and then repeating the whole process. With each rising globule the woman pressed against my shoulder looked increasingly nervous. Her eyebrows rose a little more and she wiggled as though trying to move further away. Eventually, just outside London Bridge, he let loose a particularly slimy barrage. Her eyes rolled back into her head and she passed out. Unable to properly slump to the floor she was lodged between upright bodies, a dead weight towards which people vaguely wafted copies of the Metro, until the doors opened and clean air flooded in.

Swine flu.

Are we getting all a little panicked about nothing? Or aren’t we? Why can tell anymore?

Deadly Virus takes grip of the country as number of confirmed cases rises to 55’ said the Sun on Saturday, and all right, so they only mean in the UK, but still it's a slight come down from its earlier suggestion that ‘the whole of humanity is under threat’.

Whilst the Express recently told us that it could ‘kill 750,000 people in Britain and lead to mass graves and inflatable mortuaries.

“Has the media exaggerated the threat of swine flue?” the BBC journalist rhetorically asked last night.

A third of the global population is under threat,’ squealed the Guardian this lunchtime.

No-one seems to know. Not even the victims. Twelve year old Sophie de Salis said that “it’s just like a normal cold” whilst forty-three year old Barry Greatorex claims “never to have experienced anything like it.”

It’s all so gloriously inconsistent.

A leaflet comes through my letter box warning me about the symptoms and what to do if I feel ill (essentially, hide under the bed until it goes away) whilst one school in Bristol reopens, the jolly hockey sticks one in Dulwich stays shut and some fool makes an announcement that any school forced to close over the exam season will have its pupils awarded GCSEs and A Levels on the basis of the mocks and predicted grades.

Hell, at sixteen I’d have been running around trying to find someone who’d willingly infect me.

It is, of course, the slightly bored media looking for something new and a bit more sensationalist to herald the end of the world as we know it than the continuing stuttering economy. There’s only so long indexed economics bottoming out can be sexy, but Pigs! Central American climate! Sneezing fits! Fever sweats! Death! Wow – there’s a screenwriter in Hollywood just praying that the infection/intubation rate speeds up because it would add to the tension on forty-two minutes.

But don’t worry. The people is charge of saving the planet this time have... Spreadsheets.

Yes, the World Heath Organisation, who have declared a possible pandemic have done so by assessing potential risk. They’re looking at the worst possible outcome, not the definite we’re-all-gonna-die predication that has been recycled and misinterpreted into our lounges and minds. Somewhere, perhaps in Geneva, a short man in light grey suit and oversized glasses who went to international school and speaks every language with a mid-western twang is multiplying possibility by impact and upgrading the relevant cells in his excel document from green to red. He is feeling pretty pleased with himself. In fact, he might have an erection.

Here’s the bad news: Risk assessment is boring. So, we don’t get to hear about it. Instead we get the jazzed up version, life with a bit more pizzazz to sell a couple of more papers and give the juniors at BBC24 something to do on a Wednesday afternoon at four o’clock.

In reality, it may not be foxy, but we all measure risk, in one way or another, on a daily basis. Some of us try to calculate the impact of every word we say, we try to control every single outcome of every single situation. Some of us just attempt to
claim back toilet seats, moat cleaning costs and horse shit on expense accounts.
Or, indeed, it could just be whether we stop-look-and-listen when crossing the road, but very few of us actually think purely in terms of risk.

We’re more likely to think in terms of chance. Which is the same thing, but it sounds less dull, more random, more fun.

What are the chances, for instance, that on Friday I’ll go to Kensington to meet my friend Clare who’s is celebrating the viva that concludes her phd? Well, pretty high – I’ve known Clare for over a decade. Of course I’m going. But then, what are the chances that as I lean across the table to embrace her and say “I presume that you’re now Dr Clare” the door to the toilets will open and out will step someone else I know?



“What are you doing here?”

“Do you know Clare, then?”

“How do you know Steph?”



Okay. Deep breath.

“StephgoesoutwithSteve,notthatSteve,theotherone,theonewhodidn’tgotobedearlyattheNewYear’spartyinSalehurstRoad-yesthatone!theonewhowenttoMIT!ImetClare(keepup)in Sheffieldand(yes,that’sright)thereasonIcan’tcomehikingintwoweeks’timeisbecause I’musheringatClare’swedding–theweddingyou’vejustbeendiscussing–andit’snotmyfaultI’vefailedtoworkoutthatyoucouldbeinthesamedepartment.ClaredoescloudsandStephdoesoceans.AsfarasI’mawarethereshouldbemilesofopenairbetweenyou.”

So, what are the chances of all of the above? Okay, so I knew both worked at Imperial, but I’m rarely in Kensington (or any bit of West London to be honest) and I was running late and she was just leaving and (oh!) it was beautifully timed.

I couldn’t have made it up.

Should I have considered it before? If I’m entirely truthful then I did in a wouldn’t-be-funny-if way, but it was a lucky chance and I wasn’t going to complete a fully fledged risk assessment analysis for it because that would have destroyed the mystery of it.

And I couldn’t have sat down with a wink and said “eh, see I know everybody.”

God, Einstein once (more or less) wrote in a letter, does not play dice. Neither (thankfully) does the World Health Organisation. We do, however. We, the poor dumb idiots scrabbling around playing craps for shots in back alleys under the broken neon do so because we can.

The media likes to do so, too. Only this time it seems to be hedging its bets. Not even the imaginary Daily Sensation wants to be the one, when 1918 Spanish Influenza levels are reached, gets to run a punning headline around ‘I told you so, thirty million dead.’ So instead they’ve trapped themselves in a cycle of panic-self-induced-moral-backlash-quick-panic-again.

And, then, over the hill – their saviours: MPs of all parties swindled the decent hard-working public TM out of money. Now, THAT’S sexy.

So, that’s it.

Until the winter sets in anyway.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

A Year Is A Long Time In Politics, Isn't It Boris?


H’mm. Boris.

Boris, Boris, Boris, Boris, Boris.

Oh, Boris.

Boris, isn’t it strange how whenever I type your name I can hear Art Garfunkel whisper in my ear ‘hello, darkness, my old friend’? Why do you imagine that is?

Don’t worry, chum, I don’t really expect you to reply. This is, after all, a rhetorical letter, but perhaps now I’ve got your attention could I please raise a few other points?

It has (as you know) been a year since you were handed the keys to the giant glass testicle on the Southbank, with its picturesque views over Tower Bridge. It has been a whole year since you crowed triumphantly over the slaying of Red Ken. I must confess that I made some pretty rude statements about you last May, but they were (I hope you can appreciate) said in moments of anger, moments when I was writing with my heart, rather than my head.

Still, a year, eh? Do you not think now would be a good time to assess your progress so far?

No, I didn’t think you would, but tough luck I’m going to anyway.

Or that was the plan. Despite the fact that you’ve felt like a continuously shrill, particularly posh alarm clock every morning on the London news with some half-baked opinion, a briefish scrounge of the web doesn’t actually offer up much in the way of achievements. The only things I can find for definite are the banning of alcohol on public transport (and as you know, we’ve been there before, you and I) and the fulfilment of the election promise to increase police presence at zone two and further out overland train stations. Not that I’ve seen a single one at Brockley, Honor Oak Park, New Cross Gate or New Cross, but let’s pretend that’s because they’re so fiendishly disguised in their florescent jackets and give you the benefit of the doubt, shall we?

Unfortunately, you’ve not done so well on other issues of law and order. You practically hounded Sir Ian Blair out of office with continual public denouncements of how the inquiry into the de Menzies’ shooting was handled. Yes, it was shocking that armed police could accidentally gun down an innocent man, but shouldn’t you have been working on ways to improve the system using experienced officers rather than bullying someone until they gave up and went home? Besides, Boris, for the week or so after the 2005 bombings the tube was thick with sweat and tension, the city felt poised on the edge of itself. I remember. I was here, riding the Northern and Victoria Lines every day. You (I’m guessing) were pissing about in Henley-on-Thames or already on holiday somewhere.

But even with a handpicked man in charge of the police you still seem to have generally buggered it up, don’t you? I can appreciate the dilemma. Your chum Dave and his cronies are about to get a visit from the modern equivalent of the Sweeney do you or don’t you give him a call and tip him off? It’s a toughie, isn’t it? I appreciate that the raid should probably never have taken place, but was it really your place to intervene? Not really, now was it?

Oh, of course.

I’m sorry, you can’t remember whether you did or not, can you? How convenient.

Anyway, I’m sure you’ll remember this – after all it’s been all over the news in recent weeks. It is, of course, your man Paul Stevenson’s handling of the G20 protest marches. Now, this isn’t really the place to discuss the pros and cons of kettleing as a form of controlling protestors nor does it do either of us any credit to harp on about the disgusting use of excessive force from officers not displaying proper identification badges which resulted in the death of an innocent man (now, hold on, I’ve heard that phrase before), no, what I’m particularly interested in is your lack of engagement on the issue. Red Ken was all over the news, as was the other bloke, you know the Lib Dem chap, Brian what’s his name? But you, Boris, waited three whole weeks before making a statement. What were doing? Cleaning the testicle’s windows?

Anyway, I’ll come back to this in a moment. I’ve got a bit more to get through so I better crack on. Now, let’s see... Well, you managed to piss the Chinese off by having one hand in your pocket and your jacket undone when you accepted the Olympic flag. Now I know scruffiness is a point of style for you, but even I’d of made an effort under those circumstances, before standing like blonde twonk flapping the flag around whilst David Beckham hoofed footballs off the top of routemaster and Leona Lewis warbled something pointless. But you know what really knarked me about the Olympic hand-over – your whole ‘ping-pong’s coming home’ spiel where you claimed it’s really called Whiff-Whaff or Piffle-Wiffle or some-such and is a traditional British sport. Worse, even, you tried to make it appear a moment of spontaneity, when in fact you were recycling an old Telegraph column where you slagged off the Chinese in a more general sense.

Indeed, probably the only other sixteen people to have ever heard of whiff-whaff before were those who’d read that column in 2002 (I think) and even they, probably, didn’t believe you.

What else?

Given that you built what seemed like fifty-percent of your election campaign around a critique of Red Ken’s alleged cronyism and the possibility of illegal activities by key Mayoral staff it seems completely unfair to remind you that you’ve had to sack several of your own team already, including Ray Lewis your Deputy Mayor who left embroiled in whiffs of financial and sexual scandal. It just isn’t fair, is it?

You’ve been claiming to champion green issues, but what the one hand does the other undoes. For example, you encourage the use of bikes, but drastically slash funding for cycle lanes potentially increasing the number of bike-related accidents. You’re in the process of cancelling the Western Extension of the congestion charge zone, which will see an increase in traffic in Earl’s Court, Kensington, Notting Hill and Chelsea during the week, and are in process of phasing out the bendy-buses for half-designed new routemasters which are (by the very nature that they take less passengers and require longer times for boarding and disembarking) going to help increase congestion and pollution.

Oh, and on the environment, this one’s my favourite. Come on, even you must see the hypocritical and it’d-be-funny-if-it-wasn’t-so-gut-wrenchingly-disingenuous side to this one? The airports. In West London you’re joining in with the anti-Heathrow expansion protestors (and to a lesser extent in Standstead, but residents of Bishops Stortfod can’t vote in the London elections so you’re not so bothered). You’re out there being seen to care about residents subjected to a constant influx of humongous planes, but in East London you’re proposing we build a whole new airport. On the Thames no less! A floating god-damn airport – it’s so bonkers I want it to exist, but the fact is it’ll have the same environmental impact as an extension to Heathrow with the added benefit of destroying the habit of dozens of bird species and probably repolluting the river to boot.


I have to ask, dear Boris, given the above what, aside from winning votes, do you actually believe in?


Don’t worry. It was another rhetorical question. You see, I think I already know the answer.

I used to think it was your right-wing views, odious personality and gabble-mouthed idiocy that posed the biggest threat to us, but now I think there might be a more fundamental flaw with you. A while ago you gave an interview to the Guardian for the Q&A page in the Saturday magazine where you quoted the song you’d most like to hear played at your funeral as the Rolling Stone’s You Can’t Always Get What You Need.

Perhaps Mick can remind us how it goes?

‘YouCan’t. AlwaysGet. WhatYouWaaaaant. YouCan’t. AlwaysGet. WhatYouWaaaant. ButIfYouTrySometimes, thenyoumightjustfiiiiind, you get wwwhaat you neeeeeed, whoa yeah.’

I can’t shake the feeling that you named this with more than a smirk of irony. I mean, if you were to ever not get what you waaaaant, then you tend to act like a perpetually spoilt toddler and rant and rave, chucking papers around the place and letting your already unruly hair look like a corgi with rabies. I mean, do I need to give the example of the childish storming out from the so-called snow-gate enquiry into how the hell the whole city managed to grind to a halt for the best part of week when the first inclement weather on your watch dropped by for a cup of tea? I would have thought that the panel was not only due your respect, but probably asked some reasonable enough questions.

Just ones you didn’t want to answer that day, eh?

Increasingly over the past twelve months I’m being forced into the opinion that your sole reasoning for having a political life is because (if I can paraphrase another band with Stone in the name) you wanna be adored.

Which is a shame, because when I thought you had hate-filled, pious, wealthy-inclusive principles then I may have disagreed with you, but at least you appeared to have principles. Now, I suspect you’re but a shell of a politician sitting in the glass testicle’s big office, at the big desk, in the big comfy leather chair, spinning around aimlessly in the morning sunlight waiting for a minion to bring you the latest popularity charts. Look, you’re still ahead Red Ken. Well done. You’ve won the prize. I suppose it’s some sort of blessing in disguise that you’re not actually doing much with it. It is fortunate, after all, that this Mayoral tenancy currently has ‘the sooooouuuund of siiiilence’ about it. I mean, who knows how screwed we’d all be if you woke up one morning and thought vaguely about doing stuff other than trying to make yourself feel popular?

Written regretfully in a hurry - quoted sources and references to follow.