Friday, 24 February 2017

The Old Flame

So, as most of us expected, the dodgy Paul Nuttall easily snatched defeat from the erstwhile jaws of victory in the Stoke by-election and once again, nobody cares what happens in that benighted former industrial region. Nuttall, like so many in politics, has a view of reality – and of himself – which is at odds with what those who have to live with political decisions see. The other explanation is, of course, that as a Scouser he'd do anything to avoid having  job.

This week journalist Ian Dunt, who makes habit of seizing upon the wrong end of the zeitgeist wrote about Brexit in his usual alarmist way. Trotting out the usual guff about how very stupid the majority of voters are he paints a vision of a doomed Britain, post immigration without ever considering the possibility that he may be wrong. Delusions of self-importance and omniscience have a habit of tripping up such seers; you never, for instance, see two economists agreeing with a prognosis yet they’ll claim to have foreseen the apocalypse... after it happens.

Then there is the curious case of Trevor Phillips, who has undergone something of a partial-sighted epiphany of late as he lambasts the race relations industry for its former zeal and cack-handedness. Having spent many years at the forefront of the burgeoning hurt industry, fuelling the fires of malcontent, now that they have roared into lusty life he adopts a haughty told you so attitude. Except, no, Trevor, we told you so. Political correctness has gone mad, he writes. No, it was sectioned long ago, and pretending you weren’t part of what made it crazy is disingenuous to an extent that may itself be a form of insanity.

But none of us are immune to a touch of self-delusion and it doesn’t take a lot to flatter us into seeing a version of ourselves at variance with the evidence. But not me; I have my feet on the ground, which, curiously, reminds me of a conversation I had yesterday. I received a phone call from a gorgeous ex-girlfriend who got in touch, out-of-the-blue, to see if I was still around and to catch up. We lost track of time, chatting about the wild, romantic days we used to enjoy together. I couldn't believe my good fortune when she - a former glamour model - asked if I'd be interested in meeting up and rekindling a bit of that old magic.

Well I was a little taken aback. “I don't know if I could keep pace with you now”, I said,
“I'm a bit older and a bit greyer and my hair is a lot thinner than when you last saw me. Plus these days, I don't really have the energy I used to have.” She just giggled and with a flirty tone said she was sure I would ‘rise to the challenge’. She always had a way of arousing my interest and with that encouragement I have to admit I was up for it.

But I like to think I have a certain robust honesty and more than a little self-doubt. So I went along with the idea, but made sure to prepare her for the encounter. “Just so long as you don't mind a waistline that's a few inches wider than the old days” I said, “not to mention my total lack of muscle tone. “ I continued, half expecting her to put the phone down on me, “Everything is sagging, my teeth are a bit yellow now... and I am developing the jowls of a bulldog. I look like that Churchill on the insurance ads!”

She just laughed that familiar, tinkly laugh and told me to stop being so silly. There was life, she suggested, in the old dog yet. She teased me a little, saying that tubby, grey haired, 'mature' men were cute. I could picture her, twirling a lock of hair around her index finger. And then, in a breathy whisper she purred down the line that you never forget how to ride a bike and she was sure I would still be a great lover. I have to say, I was ready to close the deal. “Anyway,” she giggled, "I've put on a few pounds myself!”

So I told her to sod off.

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