David Cameron must be squirming. Diary of an MP’s Wife is a rollickingly indiscreet new book by Sasha Swire, wife of Sir Hugo, a former junior minister. And it’s full of eye-popping gossip about Mr Cameron and his friends.
But forget the stuff about drinking and dirty jokes, and the claim that Mr Cameron once told Lady Swire that her perfume made him want to “push you into the bushes and give you one”. The story that will embarrass him most may actually be the following.
According to Lady Swire, Mr Cameron once planned to introduce the most bizarre policy. He wanted to help save people’s marriages by getting Ikea to enclose lists of relationship tips with their flat-pack furniture.
No, I can’t quite get my head around it, either. Yet Lady Swire says the then Prime Minister was “genuinely excited” by the proposal – and was only dissuaded when an aide told him he was in danger of “looking like Prince Charles talking to plants”.
A pity, in a way. The idea is so mind-bogglingly odd, I’d have been fascinated to see how it turned out.
“Oh, for pity’s sake, Margaret, this is hopeless. I can’t work out where I’m going wrong with this wardrobe. It’s impossible to put together. Where are the blasted instructions?”
“Here you are, Roger dear.”
“Right. Let’s see what they say. ‘One. Reignite your romantic spark by indulging in a little role play. A sexy costume can work wonders. She’ll be purring with desire when she sees you dressed up in a fireman’s uniform.’”
“A fireman’s uniform? What fireman’s uniform? I can’t find any uniforms in this box. Just bits of wood and little bags full of screws.”
“Typical. It must be missing. I’ll call the customer helpline. Here we go, it’s ringing. Oh, drat it, it’s just one of those automated voice things.”
“You’re through to Ikea. Please listen to the following options. For dating dilemmas, press one. For pregnancy tips, press two. For lost libido, press three. For saucy new techniques that will drive him wild…”
“It’s no good, Margaret. Nothing about any fireman’s uniform. We’ll just have to try and build this infernal wardrobe without it. Have another look in the box. Are there any locking nuts?”
“Can’t see any, dear. But for some reason, there is this enormous whip.”
Rees-Mogg is talking carp
Lots of people are angry because they can’t get a Covid test. According to Jacob Rees-Mogg, however, they should jolly well stop moaning.
Enough of “this endless carping, with people saying it is difficult to get [a test],” he told the Commons on Thursday. Instead, said Mr Rees-Mogg, people “should be celebrating” the Government’s efforts as a “phenomenal success”.
Well, that’s one way of looking at it. And, to be fair, maybe he does have a point. In this country we have a habit of focusing on the bad news, and ignoring the good.
Take the Titanic. People are always banging on about how it sank. Yet they never stop to celebrate the many hundreds of miles for which it stayed successfully afloat.
There’s barely any praise for the ship’s sumptuous interior decor, or the splendid food, or the immaculate table service by the staff. And there’s scarcely a mention of the magnificent range of onboard amenities: the Turkish baths, the saltwater swimming pool, the state-of-the-art gymnasium.
Instead, all we ever hear is this endless carping about icebergs, and not enough lifeboats.
Personally, I think we should all take a leaf out of Mr Rees-Mogg’s book, and try to be more positive. Instead of feeling sorry for ourselves, let’s be grateful for what we’ve got.
After all, next year is bound to be far worse.
Grayson Perry is wrong about the Right
Who’s nicer: people with Right-wing views, or people with Left-wing views? Grayson Perry, the artist and TV presenter, believes he has the answer. He’s just made a series for Channel 4 called Big American Road Trip, in which he travels the US, meeting people on both sides of the political divide. And, in his experience, people with Right-wing views “on average are friendlier and more open”.
I disagree. But then, I’d have disagreed if he’d said people with Left-wing views, too. Because the correct answer is neither.
The nicest, friendliest, and indeed happiest people are those with no interest in politics at all. The truth is, a close interest in politics is deeply unhealthy. It’s a disease of the mind, which turns the afflicted from cheerful, well-adjusted human beings into bug-eyed fanatics who have no interest in any other subject.
Look at the effect the referendum has had on so many of us. These days, no Christmas dinner or other family get-together can hope to survive any mention of Brexit. Or for that matter Donald Trump. How much happier we all were in the halcyon days of voter apathy.
I’ve been reporting from the Commons gallery for almost a decade. And the biggest problem with Parliament, it seems to me, is this: it’s full of people who are interested in politics. That’s why they’re all so angry and rude and spiteful and weird. They’ve caught the disease, and they cannot be cured.
This country would be much better off, and probably better run, if 10 years ago we’d turfed out all these people who are interested in politics, and filled the Commons with people who would much rather talk about something else. Bee-keeping, say, or embroidery, or rugby league.
If only I could stop obsessing about politics myself. Politics ruins everything. If I ever stand for election, I shall pledge to abolish it.
And then resign.