Monday, 31 May 2021


It’s been an odd week. At last it’s a bit like summer. The temperature about normal for this time of the year feels like a heatwave. 18C. Get out the shorts. No perhaps not. Not the shorts.

Sunshine…. in many ways its made me think of the 1960s and, of course, the Beatles: 

“Here comes the sun do, do, do
Here comes the sun
And I say it's all right.
Little darling, it's been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling, it seems like years since it's been here”

“It’s all right”.  Not if you’re Boris for whom it’s been a beastly week. 

Like that Harold MacMillan (another Eton and Balliol classicist) endured in the 1960s’ with the “Profumo Scandal”. This involved a sexual triste between voluptuous Christine Keeler and John Profumo, Secretary of State for War, with John lying when the story came out and standing up in the House of Commons and saying “I didn’t” but he had done it so off he went in disgrace. Imagine by the way having a Secretary of State for War  - the sort of thing Donald Trump would have liked. “Cry havoc and unleash the dogs of war.” 

It was around this time that the phrase “13 years of Tory misrule” became commonly used mostly and to good effect by Harold Wilson. So far it’s only  been “10 ½ years of Tory misrule”. Well you can see the parallels.

I’ve found the Dominic Cummings show a bit tiresome.  He may be very clever but he’s not very bright. He’s got little credibility and he’s failing to land a telling blow. Most of the country quite like bounder Boris in the same way they’d like a dog (a Labrador Retriever not a ghastly Dilyn dog) that steals the sausages and grins. It’s not being very British going public about his boss  like this and Dominic does look a bit of a pratt. You can loathe Boris (nearly everyone I know does) but he wins elections (including the referendum it’s three so far). 

Then I realised it wasn’t the 1960s that had really been on my mind at all. It was the 16th century.

I’m reading – yes I’m still reading –this time the third in the Hilary Mantel trilogy about Thomas Cromwell, “The Mirror and the Light”. She writes deftly and intelligently about what goes through men’s minds in politics. In Ann Boleyn, we have a precursor to Carrie Simmons.

Henry, overweight, sickly, self-obsessed, much married, also wanting to be “king of the world” has others around him to do his dirty work. He was as the French described him “Le vert gallant” - a bit of a louche spark – a lady’s man. But in Lord Thomas Cromwell who could “break a man’s jaw with one blow” we have a thug with the charm and wit to be always be on the right side of an argument. Dominic is about as important as a Christophe – a servant of Cromwell’s. He is an intellectual terrorist who would have been described in my youth (as many were) as “something of a disappointment” who didn’t like sport and was a nasty sneak. Dom, as he’s known, is about only one thing …revenge. Here’s how Shakespeare put that in Titus Andronicus:

“Vengeance is in my heart, death in my hand,
Blood and revenge are hammering in my head”.

My week ended with a wonderful performance of Tchaikovsky’s  Serenade for Strings in C major by the Strings of the Royal Philharmonic.

After that revenge and political shenanigans seem a bit silly.

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