Wednesday, 24 July 2019

Today is the first day of the rest of your life (and Boris becomes PM)

When I was at St Vincent's school, one of the old nuns used to regularly remind us "Today is the first day of the rest of your life", implore us to pray for forgiveness for our sins and to resolve to be "good little children today". She implored us to pray to Jesus for deliverance for our sins and would tell us to pray her favourite prayer. I normally publish a Wednesday poem, so I was originally going to publish this, with a commentary, I hadn't realised this would coincide with the arrival of Boris Johnson in No 10. 

GENTLE Jesus, meek and mild, 
Look upon a little child, 
Pity my simplicity, 
Suffer me to come to thee.

Sadly there were many days that were the first day of the rest of my life, where I was not a good little child. In fact, despite my daily recital of this prayer at assembly, I was a naughty little brat. I was always argumentative and enjoyed causing trouble. In my final report from St Vincents, Sister Gabriel the Headmistress, wrote with great disdain that I was argumentative and untrustworthy and the only career I was suited for was one as a politician. I thought this rather unfair. My father thought it was hilarious. Generally the way justice was administered at St Vincents was that the teachers/Head Mistress would decide who had been naughty and bash them with bats/rulers/blackboard dusters until such time as they 'confessed'. As my Catholic education had also taught me that it was a sin to tell lies and they blackened the soul and you would go to hell if you committed too many, I would refuse to confess. As a result I would get bashed quite a lot. I remember Sister Gabriel once complaining that I was irritating her arthritis as she had given me ten lashings with the Bat and I'd still not confessed. She told me that I'd have her bad arm on my conscience. I took such things seriously and went to confession on Saturday. I would ensure that I saw Father Andy Kavanagh, as he'd give you three hail Mary's regardless of whether you'd stolen your sisters porridge or murdered your next door neighbour (not that I had done that). When I told him that my sin was that "I'd made Sister Gabriels arm hurt because she'd had to give me the bat so many times" he laughed and then asked me to repeat it. When I did, he said "I thought you said that, what did you do?" I replied "She thought I'd written something about Susan Purdon on the toilet wall". He said "Why did she think that?". So I explained "The caretaker found the Graffiti and told Sister Gabriel. She came to the class and said 'Can anyone tell me which boy fancies Susan Purdon' at which Peter Conway put up his hand and said 'Roger Tichborne fancies her Sister' (a sure way to get a cheap laugh) at which I was taken to her office and she gave me the bat and insisted I confessed". Fr Kavanagh then said "What did the Graffiti say?". I said "I don't know, the caretaker scrubbed it off". At this Father Kavanagh laughed and said "I'll have to have a word with Sister Gabriel, she should offer her sufferings up to the Holy Souls". He then said "Have you committed any other sins this week?" As I thought no sin could compare to making a nun's arm hurt, I couldn't think of any. So I replied "I don't think so". Father Kavanagh replied "Well I'm sure you did something so go and say a Hail Mary". I was flabbergasted. I had expected excommunication, or at the very least three Hail Mary's. I later found out that the graffiti said "Susan Purdon is like a big jam donut" and I know the identity of the perpetrator, although I was sworn to secrecy about his identity.

You may be asking about what all of this has to do with Boris Johnson? Well I was think about Sister Gabriel's comment about the talents required to be a successful politician. In her assessment being "argumentative and untrustworthy" are key. As far as I know Boris is the first Prime minister to have been sacked for lying to reach the heady heights. Now Boris is top banana, only the Queen can sack him. I was having a drink with friends last night and they asked how I thought Boris would do. I said that I think there is a 20% chance that he will be the best Prime Minister we've ever had, or at least since Winston Churchill. He is a gambler and risk taker. He is also lazy, so if he appoints a good team, he will let them get on with it. The country desperately needs all manner of major reforms and it could well be that Boris is the maverick to deliver them. My friends were horrified that I could say such a heresy. How could I possibly think Boris would be a success? I said "I said there was a 20% chance that this would happen, it's not impossible, but I think there is an 80% chance that it will be shambolic, his administration will be faction ridden and that the race to succeed him has already begun as most of the Tories know that it is all likely to fall apart spectacularly.

Many people suggest to me that Boris is funny and affable. I don't really subscribe to the theory he is anything more than a good foil for a competent comedian (such as Ian Hislop on HIGNFY). Boris always reminds me of the Monty Python sketch where the comment about toilet wall Susan Purdon was hijacked from. I suspect that his first cabinet meeting will not be entirely dissimilar.

Can I make a suggestion. Go out. Do something I'd never ever suggest you do in any other circumstances. Buy a copy of the Daily Mail, The Daily Telegraph, The Sun and The Daily Express. Do not read them. Wrap them up safely and store them under your bed. In one years time, on the 24th July 2020, dig them out and read them. It will be fascinating to see how the unadulterated optimism they are spouting about the Boris premiership works out. I have already stored my copies. I can't read all of the waffle, I find it is rather insulting to my intelligence. I listened to the speech Boris made upon learning of his victory. It was vacuous and mindnumbingly banal. Generally new Prime Ministers make sure that they get some pithy soundbites in for such a momentous occasion. It seemed to me that Boris simply couldn't be bothered. That does not bode well. I suspect that we are in for an early general election. Back in June, I published a blog after speaking to one of team Boris that laid a potential road map for what we can expect. I suspect I will refer back to this many times over the next few months. Perhaps the most interesting thing of all is that all of the Conservatives that have read the blog and spoken to me have privately agreed that they think it is the most likely path he will tread.

Remember you read it here first.

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