Friday, 27 March 2015
Send in the clowns!
So, Parliament is putting on the dust covers as we near the last frenetic month of this long, long fixed term. Five years with no remission? We must at least be due compensation, but instead we must now endure a seemingly endless barrage of down-and-dirty, full-on party politicking as characters we have hardly seen return to their constituencies to kiss babies, talk bollocks, pretend to be ordinary folk-like-us and generally annoy us all into voting; they ought to be more careful what they wish for.
But while nowadays we see the rise of the political dynasties, in the past few were born into politics and came into what they saw as service from a whole variety of colourful backgrounds, bringing with them a wealth of experience won on the battlefields of real life. From postmen to personnel managers, plumbers to town planners; but none with so colourful a past as John Major who famously ran away to join the circus. A new volume of his memoirs is about to be published and in it he describes a hitherto unknown aspect of his life in the ring.
For a while John’s act was the most popular in the whole show, as he ran with the clowns, but what was most surprising of all is that he was very popular indeed with the ladies in the audience. Every night after they took their bows, queues of swooning admirers would mob his caravan to catch a glimpse, bag an autograph… or cop a feel.
But the other clowns were furious and jealous of his popularity they tried to work out the secret of his success. They set to watch his routine carefully and analyse his every move, but after a few night’s work they were still none the wiser. Okay, he had the whole clown get-up, but so did they all; the nose, the whiteface, the scary permanent grin. Yes, he did have that odd internal moustache, but come on ladies, really? It couldn’t be that. The only makeup feature that stood out was his enormous, back-combed, jet-black, Afro wig. But surely that was more likely to inspire coulrophobia than lustful craving?
Maybe it was his act? They examined in detail his every move, from blocking out in rehearsals to the final finished performance, but there was little to it. In fact, if anything there was so much less ‘business’ from Major than some of the principal clowns – a Pierrot he was not, as he wobbled about the arena. In fact his whole schtick seemed to comprise nothing more than pretending to drink an entire barrel of beer and stagger around as if drunk and dazed.
The chief clown decided to confront John himself who, it turned out, was no wiser and somewhat perplexed by all the attention. And so it was decided that they would have to ask the women – who often came night after night to touch the outsized hem of his garment – just what it was that drove their passion. That night, after John had donned his enormous fuzzy wig and big red nose; after he had apparently downed several gallons of strong ale marked ‘XXXX’ and after he had staggered ‘drunk’ from pillar to post for several minutes, the troupe of clowns personally escorted John backstage to his caravan before addressing the throng of lovelorn lassies.
“Ladies, ladies, calm down!” said the Chief Clown “John will be out in a minute.” The women screamed and a few threw knickers. The speaker raised and slowly lowered his arms to command silence. “But before he does” he continued “we need to know the answer to a burning question.” The crowd fell silent and waited. “What is it” he asked “that drives you so wild?” For a moment nobody said a word; you could hear a pin drop. Then one of the women – it may have been Edwina Currie herself – shouted out, “Surely you realise John Major is a well-known afro-dizzy-act?”
(I'll get my coat...)