Friday, 22 July 2016

The Weak in Politics

If a normal week is a long time in politics, the week that’s just passed may one day be measured using geological core samples. What, with all the kerfuffle around British affairs, not to mention the serial atrocities across Europe and the sheer intrigue of the Turkish situation, even Kim Kardashian’s arse was relegated to a few meagre column inches in the back pages. But, enough about Kanye... It’s hard to keep up with each new day bringing another you’ll-never-believe-it-but moment. Being in journalism or politics right now is no job for the faint hearted, or weak kneed. Definitely a time for the youngsters to demonstrate that the energy and vigour of their youth is not merely wasted on them.

As for the old codgers - with the possible exception of Jeremy Corbyn - maybe time to move on? With Theresa firmly on the throne, her new cabinet growing into their roles, the old guard, relieved of frontline duties, can fade into the background. One such stalwart decided to take early retirement and announced, albeit to the ether, that he would not be contesting his seat at the next general election. Apart from the weekly surgery he offloaded most of his other duties and prepared to retire to his constituency home.

Still sprightly, in his early sixties, he found a new interest in the life he had little time for during the past two decades and managed to play golf twice a week, relax in the garden, take long country walks and he even began to write his memoirs. He also found more time for the family and could often be seen looking after his grandchildren, playing the elder statesman to his own little dynasty. One evening he took his wife off to an expensive, Michelin-starred restaurant in London to celebrate their wedding anniversary.

During dinner a slender, stunningly beautiful woman in her early thirties came over to the table, hugged the husband, gave him a lingering kiss and whispered that she could meet him later if he wanted. His wife remained silent during the exchange – a politician’s wife knows when to keep a dignified distance – but then glared at him and demanded to know “Who the hell was that?” The old politician said “What's the big deal? Surely you knew I kept a mistress?” The wife was flabbergasted and began to rise from the table, muttering about divorce and lawyers.

“Wait” said her husband “there is nothing to make a fuss about. We all have mistresses here in Westminster. We work long hours away from home and sometimes we just need to unwind. It’s more of a business arrangement than anything.” The wife was still seething and threatening to take him for every penny he was worth. Her husband let her finish then put down his napkin, gently took her hand and explained.

“You want a divorce, you say? Okay, if you’re sure. But keep in mind that I have spent years in the company of the country’s best lawyers. Everything I own is kept in trust, hidden in offshore accounts and sewn up tight with covenants and other legal entanglements. And all these precautions mean that should you sue me for divorce it will cost you a great deal in fees and you will end up with very little in settlement, if anything at all.” She was stunned.

He went on. “This means, there will be no more shopping trips to Paris for you, no more long winter holidays in Courchevel and you can kiss goodbye to the villa in Tuscany. I’m leaving it all to the children and you won’t get a penny for yourself. The Merc will have to go and I’m afraid you’ll also have to move out of the Chipping Norton mansion. But, hey, I still love you and think of the children and how this might affect them. The decision is up to you.”

She got up from the table and holding back the tears, excused herself to the ladies’ room. A few minutes later she came back looking composed, with fresh make-up applied and took her seat again. She told him that on reflection she realised her own interests were best served by not rocking the boat and acknowledged that they were still good friends. She could handle this. He took her hands in his, smiled and said he knew she’d understand. 

Mistress is waiting...

They continued their dinner and the talk gradually became more relaxed. Then she noticed a recognisable figure at a nearby table. “Who’s that young woman with Dominic Grieve?” she asked. The man looked over and said “That's Dominic’s mistress. I told you, it’s normal around here.” His wife studied the couple for a moment then looked back at her husband, tipped him a conspiratorial wink and said, proudly “Ours is much prettier.”