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Best in Show
Every week, The Friday Speed Read stands outside the front of Speed HQ and addresses the world from behind a lectern emblazoned with face of John Craven. It then announces in its outside voice the week’s biggest stories to anyone who cares to listen and many more who don’t.
It was late on Saturday evening. In the gloaming of a single antique table lamp, TM the PM distractedly wiped a few stray crumbs from her fourth slice of M&S Wood Fired Mozzarella di Bufula pizza from around her mouth as the dancing blue light from the nearby television streaked across her keen eyes. Philip arrived from the kitchen a few moments later cradling a bottle of mid-range Chardonnay still dripping beads of condensation on account of its recent plucking from the depths of the refrigerator (the wine, not the husband of the Prime Minster). He paused.
“Are you sure, Theresa? A second bottle?”
His wife turned her head from the television with the smooth action of an owl surveying a moonlit field.
“Yes Philip”, she whispered, “a second.”
Philip winced but knew better than to argue and twisted the metal cap from the bottle with practiced ease.
“What’s wrong with corks?” he asked to no one in particular, “You knew where you stood with a cork; it lent theatre to the whole thing. The pop. We’re poorer for lack of the pop.”
TM the PM, worn down by years of her husband’s amateur sociology, coldly lifted the remote control and raised the volume still further to such a point that The Eurovision Song Contest could almost certainly by heard through the walls by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Not that TM gave two hoots what he thought.
Waiter-like, Philip filled their two wine glasses and sat down next to his wife.
“I bloody love Madonna” said TM after too-large a gulp of chardonnay.
“I know you do, my love,” her husband replied, instantly regretting the patronising grace notes in the tone of his answer.
“Haven’t I always said that ‘La Isla Bonita’ is the perfect allegory for the benefits of private enterprise in a small-state, modern capitalist system?”
“You have my flower, many times.”
“And you remember as clearly as I do the night I wowed the East Grinstead Conservative Club with my thesis that ‘Like a Prayer’, far from sacrilegious, is in fact about the transformative power of regular church attendance and jumble sales.”
“Of course I do Terri; that night will live indelibly in the mind of all eight of us who were there,” Philip replied, lacking some conviction it must be said.
“Nine.” his wife shot back. “I know Annie Beaver left half way to escape her rising Bridge debts but I still count her. Now, stop blathering Philip and let me enjoy four glorious minutes of the True Queen of Pop wowing the two hundred plus million people watching around the globe right now with a reminder that in a time of chaos and disharmony you can at least rely on Madonna to shun clumsy political statements and wow us all with the wonder and beauty of her voice . . . here she comes. Gosh, this is going to be amazing . . . .”
Madonna appears on Eurovision dressed like an S&M Widow Twanky and sings so far off-key it was as if she was inventing a new form of music altogether; one to be used as an alternative to the nuclear deterrent.
As the performance ended and with eyes now moist and hands trembling, TM the PM silently lifted the remote and silenced the television.
“Philip” she said coldly. “Philip, it’s going to be a bad week.”
And so it was. At the time of writing TM is still the PM but by the time we reach the word limit she may well have announced the date of her departure. It’s Jacob Rees-Moggs’ birthday today; imagine how smashed on sherry he’s going to get tonight.
Silly fictions (see above) aside, this felt like the week that TM’s barnacle-like grip on power was finally ceding to the tide; her “big bold” new Brexit plan turned out to be little more than the same plan as before but with an offer to parliament that it could vote in favour of a second referendum, something that parliament has proved it can do anyway. Ministers urgently requested to see the PM, but she refused them access, as one paper put, “pulling the sofa against the door” and, presumably, watching Pointless with the volume turned up. The papers wielded their knives like Brutus in Rome but this was not the Ides of March but the End of May:
“Desperate, deluded, doomed”, said the Telegraph alongside a needlessly cruel photo triptych of TM’s contorted face.
“You’ll be gurn in the morning” crowed The Sun on Tuesday, (Quick question – would all the references to gurning have been made if the PM had been a man? Asking for a friend).
And then on Wednesday, every paper was fronted by the same large photograph of Theresa May crying in the back of her ministerial car. “Tears in the backseat 2”, reported the Mirror, choosing to remind readers that wasn’t the first time this had happened; “Tearesa” punned the Sun because it could and The Mail, so far now from its front page of TM cast as Britannia standing on the White Cliffs of Dover heroically defending our proud nation from the infidels of the EU, simply said that it was “end of the road”.
Beyond Downing Street, Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party looks set to win over 30% of the vote in the European Parliament elections (results due on Sunday) and so prepare for magnanimity, compromise and restraint from Mr Farage in his media appearances next week; the clamour to be the new PM got ever-more clamorous and there was bad economic news as both British Steel announced it was to close with the direct and indirect loss of thousands of jobs and also nearly all of Jamie Oliver’s restaurants.
And then at 10.06 on Friday morning TM the PM walked beneath blue skies to a podium in front of 10 Downing Street and announced she was going to resign on Friday 7th of June. She gave a brief speech, talking up the modest achievements of her government and ruing that was unable to deliver Brexit. As the sun shone in her eyes, she first quoted Nicholas Winton by saying, rightly, that “compromise was not a dirty word” (but let’s be honest, she didn’t do much of this); then said that the country had much to be optimistic about and finally, that it had been “an honour to serve the country I loved”. Her voice cracked with both emotion and self-defining sincerity on the word “love” before immediately turning on her heel and exiting the stage.
TM the PM no longer.