A letter came from the Prime Minister this morning. A man named Johnson. For all I know, he’ll still be Prime Minister when you read this.
An actual letter. Clever man. He must have guessed that I would eventually “snooze” the entire population of Facebook in my ongoing effort to mute the politics. I couldn’t tell you what he said, because I shredded his letter as soon as I realised what it was, but I did pick up the gist. He and I want the same things, he told me. Hah!
The envelope was a muted yellow, with a window in it. Sender’s address on the flap was “CCHQ”, which I didn’t recognise – surely they were always at Central Office and that was always in Smith Square? I tore it open.
CCHQ? GCHQ? Time to grab the go-bag and run? Oh, no, wait a second. Politics. “Dear William Essex,” wrote the Prime Minister. That, in itself, was a refreshing change from “Dear WILLIAMESSEX” or “Dear MISTERWILLIAM” or “Dear (f)name,” but I suppose the politicians hire only the best tech people.
The man wanted something. There were pictures. At lunchtime I wandered down to the sandwich shop, where the staff were wearing red Christmas hats and the music was asking “Do they know it’s Christmas?” Thought of suggesting that “Won’t get fooled again” would be even more seasonal, but I’m already an old guy in a crumpled overcoat sitting at their corner table – don’t want to worry them any further.
It’s cold despite the sunshine and I’ve just put on the heating to take the edge off. [The rest of this paragraph was added later, causing a continuity error regarding the weather. Never mind.] It's grey outside. Drizzly rain. Sea merged into sky.
To take the other edge off, I’ve just made myself a large mug of tea and some toast and black-cherry jam. Comfort eating, I suppose. Yes, thank you, I have a book to read, and a sofa.
Work to do as well, but procrastination is a fine art for a Winter’s afternoon. The light is fading. Still a week at least until the shortest day.
Outside, the wind howls [see above re continuity] and the political battle rages for a few more days [hours]. In here, I just have to remember to keep the TV and radio off.
It’ll be over by Christmas, I suppose.
By Friday lunchtime, the winner will be making good on his (her?) promises to solve all our problems within hours, days, weeks of victory, and the rest of us can get on with the important work of being here – working, resting, playing, volunteering, socialising, opening the curtains in the mornings, turning on the lights in the evenings (so far, not a single - edit: so far, only one - canvasser has caught me in), turning on the radio and then off again quickly, and waiting for the world to end.
Politics needs problems more than it needs solutions, doesn’t it? Politics needs us all worried enough to vote.
And yet this time, sea levels really are rising and vast areas of the world really are on fire. How does it feel to be accountable for solving those problems, Prime Minister?
Let’s hold a summit and set some targets, eh? That'll work.
We’d be no less a country for taking a back seat while China, USA, Russia face off against each other. We wouldn’t end up head-to-head with Iran if we retreated into the Celtic fringe.
The notion of a “special relationship” with the USA is borderline ridiculous, for a start. If we were anywhere near equals, we’d have a relationship. It’s “special” because we claim a relationship beyond our means and they humour us – sorry, humor us.
Also because we speak a similar language and share a history. But today? Come on.
There was an empire and then there was a commonwealth, and – this just in – I’m told by Google that The Commonwealth of Nations still exists.
Unexpected foreign leaders do still turn out to have been educated at a well-known private boarding school down the road from here – that’s “here” in the sense of where my smart (sic, ha ha, smart) phone thinks I am, not where I am – and apparently we do still “punch above our weight” in diplomacy, which must annoy people heavier than us.
Sooner or later, the lightweight who insists on getting between the heavyweights – what’s the phrase? – gets stomped into the ground. Pulverised with a light flick of a ballistic missile.
Tourism is the unique selling point, isn’t it? We’re a great venue. Maybe our diplomats should go back to wearing Elizabethan costume. Maybe we should stop deluding ourselves and accept our destiny as a leading player in the global, geopolitical hospitality industry.