Cummings & Goings

Inspired by Gilbert & Sullivan’s ‘Major-General’s Song’

I am the very model of a modern Human Wrecking Ball,
I’ve information personal and private and political,
I know the Kings of England and I quote the fights historical,
From Waterloo to Leave EU in order categorical.

I’m very well acquainted too, with matters philosophical,
I understand Herr Nietzsche, that old nihilist and radical.
About the will to power I am teeming with a lot o’news,
I reckon I’m a genius but I’m dumber than a doggy chew.

I’m very good at coming up with catchy three-word slogans
And giving juicy contracts to the favoured and the chosen.
In short, in matters populist, divisive and political
I am the very model of a modern Human Wrecking Ball.

Contemptuous, mendac-i-ous, dishonest and duplicitous,
I do whatever pleases me, my ego and ambitiousness.
I flout the Lockdown rules to take a stroll round Barnard Castle,
Stick a finger up at lesser folk because I am an arsehole.

And now I’ve been ejected from the vipers’ nest at Downing Street
The list of those who hated me was on its twenty-second sheet.
In short, in matters populist, divisive and political
I am the very model of a modern Human Wrecking Ball.

Special Relationship

Prime Minister, it’s time to phone President-elect Biden and offer him your congratulations.

Look, are you absolutely sure Biden’s won? No chance of Trump staging a comeback? We don’t want to blot our copybook — post-Brexit trade deal and all that.

Joe Biden has definitely won the American election, sir.

Bollocks. It’s just that… Obama thought it a trifle rude when I said he had an “ancestral dislike of the British Empire”. Didn’t understand I was joking. And apparently Joe’s got a long memory.

Sir, I’m sure he appreciated your robust failure to defend democratic processes following Trump’s attempts to stop the count.

Well, how could I know the way things would go?

Sir, that’s not the p… I’ll try to connect you now, sir.

*Brief conversation & awkward pause*

Sir, I’m afraid Mr Biden isn’t able to take your call, but he’s asked me to pass on a message.

Yes?

“Get to the back of the goddamn line.”

Lockdown

Conversation with Greg, proprietor of the Complete Care Emporium, which sells mobility and household aids to the elderly.

Boris? He’s an idiot.* If you ask me, herd immunity’s definitely the way to go.* Just let it spread among the fit and healthy and we’ll be fine.*

Gives middle-aged cough, pats beer belly.

No, the fact that herd immunity’s only ever been achieved with a vaccine (polio, measles, mumps) clearly hasn’t entered my head. It’s not as if other coronaviruses — say the common cold — keep going round and round every year, is it?

You’re right, I haven’t bothered to read up on the science. But let me tell you how much I enjoy going to the pub every Friday night* and how the first lockdown cramped my style.

The elderly? Well, you just need to shield them* and get on with it*, don’t you?

Shop door chimes and two ancient people dodder in*

Back in a tick. I just need to serve these at-risk customers who form the bulk of my clientele.

*Verbatim from actual conversation. 
Proprietor & shop name changed.

Nice work!

24 October 2020

Jeffrey, could you bring us up to speed on AMVCP Committee activities? 

Certainly, Steve. As you all know, the AMVCP’s remit is to Alienate as Many Voters as Comprehensively as Possible. And I must say that we’ve done a sterling job this month. Our lacklustre Job Support and SEISS schemes, along with the PM’s warning of a no-deal Brexit, have thoroughly pissed off the UK’s business and self-employed sectors. Using Manchester’s Tier 3 finance negotiations to take Mayor Burnham down a few pegs has also successfully enraged Red Wall voters. And our triumphant vote against ‘freebie’ school meals has resonated with almost everyone, burnishing our reputation as callous shits. Our reintroduction of VAT on face masks as the pandemic rages is but the icing on the cake… You have a question, lowly intern? 

Um, yes… Wouldn’t it actually be better to keep our voters onside? 

*Uproarious laughter gives way to thoughtful silence

Maggie’s Ghost

I do still miss the old place. So I drop in every now and then to check things are running smoothly. Except they haven’t been lately, have they? Not since the Right Dishonourable member for Uxbridge and South Ruislip became Prime Minister.

I couldn’t believe my eyes tonight. The Conservative Party — my own beloved party — approving a bill that rides roughshod over the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement and BREAKS INTERNATIONAL LAW. The Lord Chancellor and the Law Officers of England and Wales voting AGAINST an amendment ‘requiring Ministers to respect the rule of law and uphold the independence of the Courts’. For shame!

What on earth has become of us? How can I look Ronnie, François and Helmut in the eye now? Our once great nation is a pariah state.

No, I shan’t ever forgive them. And nor should you.

The Internal Market Bill passed its third reading in the House of Commons on 29 September 2020: 340 votes to 256, a majority of 84.

Biology GCSE

Deloitte recruiter to job applicant:

DR: Congratulations! You’ve got the job.

JA: That’s amazing! Thank you so much!

DR: One small clarification. When I say ‘the job’, I don’t mean the finance position you applied for originally. That’s gone. But we do have some vacancies in our Lighthouse labs.

JA: But… Don’t they process Covid tests? What’s that got to do with accountancy?

DR *brightly*: Well, we’re making shedloads of money from fat cat government contracts, with the promise of plenty more to come.

JA: No, I mean why am I, a qualified accountant, being offered a job in a lab?

DR: There’s a bit of a backlog.

JA: But I wouldn’t know what to do!

DR: You’re really being far too modest. *Looks at notes*. It says here you’ve got Biology GCSE Grade D. If anything you’re over-qualified for this shambolic, outsourced mess. Welcome to Deloitte!

Oven-Ready?!

Boris B’stard Johnson here. Just a quick word about that Oven-Ready Brexit Deal.

Thing is, I’m not so keen on it now, even though I signed it and gave it a starring role in my 2019 election campaign. So I’m going to torch the pesky Northern Ireland bit, along with our global reputation. Don’t worry, I’m sure countries will still be lining up for deals once we’ve breached an international treaty. Nothing says trustworthy like breaking the law in a ‘specific and limited way’!

Now, what you definitely mustn’t do is write to your MP about all this. So what if the Good Friday Agreement’s at risk and we’re hurtling towards No-Deal in the middle of a pandemic? Just have a rant on Twitter or watch Game of Thrones. That way MPs will be blissfully unaware of your outrage, and won’t panic and try to rein me in. No point in making my life difficult, is there?

The morning papers on 9 September 2020

Wrong Turn

Helen had met Judy on a yoga retreat in Majorca a couple of years back. After a day of Downward Dog and Bharadvaja’s Twist, they’d enjoyed raising a glass to their freshly aligned chakras.

The last place she’d expected to see Judy again was on news footage of the London anti-Covid demo. But there she was in her boho top, carrying a placard saying ‘Masks Are Muzzles / No Vaxx’ and looking decidedly un-Zen. Behind her was a bloke in a QAnon T-shirt, while up on stage some guy proclaimed that tonic water cured Covid. The camera panned to some fascist thugs, who, without a hint of irony, were concealing their identities with masks.

Helen sighed and glanced at her watch. Another 8-hour shift coming up in full PPE. But you know what? She’d take a world governed by science any day. And if Judy got Covid, you could bet your bottom dollar that she would too.

What’s That, Lassie?

Woof-woof!

What’s that, Lassie? Our GDP’s fallen down a well? A record drop of 20.4% between April and June?

Woof-woof-woof!

And things will only get worse because our feckless government refused to extend the Brexit transition period and are currently screwing up the trade talks?

Woof-woof!

Say what? A no-deal Brexit means a further 7.6% drop in GDP and long-term economic chaos? But we’ll have to sell the farm!

Woof!

It’s hopeless. All we can do is watch loads of Netflix and pray it goes away.

Woof-woof-woof!

What’s that, Lassie? You think I should join a political party or group, write to my local MP and paper, sign petitions, vote in every election, support The Guardian, New European or Byline Times, donate to the Good Law Project and generally keep up the pressure? I’m not sure my pocket money or energy will stretch that far…

Woof!

Just start with one and go from there? Gee, Lassie, that’s a great idea. You’re the BESTEST!

Whip-Crack-Away!

Hi, everyone! I’m Gavin Williamson, your totally incompetent Secretary of State for Education. I’ve just presided over the wholly avoidable A-level fiasco, causing loads of young people huge distress by tanking their futures with a dodgy algorithm (though only if we didn’t like their postcode).

Did you know: I had this portrait taken on the very day I was forced to do my screeching policy U-turn?

As you can see, it’s very understated. The coiled whip at the front of the desk is a particularly subtle touch. See what I did there? A little coded message to the PM. Oh yes, us former WHIPS know where all the bodies are buried, and everything’s neatly documented in that little orange book. So you’d better not sack me. Ever. I’m a Hard Man, see. Even though I do look a lot like Frank Spencer.