Outed! The secret life of the Cabinet

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The Independent Culture
1. Nick Brown

Agriculture Minister, 48

Ex-advertising man at Procter & Gamble. Known as "Newcastle Brown", and "Spike" after nasty bulldog in Tom and Jerry cartoon. Before last weekend, described as "political junkie with no wife and kids to distract him". Considerably distracted, however, by recent visit from News of the World.

2. Clare Short

International Development

Secretary, 52

Keen advocate of cannabis legalisation. Alarmingly keen on smoking cheroots. Tends to mislay children for several years. Likes a drink or two.

3. Anne Taylor

Chief Whip, 51

Keeps being named "Sexiest MP" by lobby correspondents. Circe-like, drives men mad with loveliness of legs, suits, hair, firm smack of discipline, etc.

4. Donald Dewar

Scottish Secretary, 61

Chronic dyslexic, who once spelt "Garibaldi" five different ways in a school essay, all of them wrong. Obsessively intones mystical Buddhist mantra "hrrrrr-um" while speaking. Has to take special "exercises" for right leg to combat extra vertebra in spine, or so he says.

5. Tony Blair

Prime Minister, 45

Has constant flirtations with alarming religious sect who go around dressed in black, frightening people with talk of hell and Satan, and take orders from strange, elderly, Rome-based Polish fan of Bob Dylan.

6. John Prescott

Deputy Prime Minister, 60

Sub-aqua-diving, ex-Cunard Line steward, famously prefers Chinese restaurants in Hull to those in Bejing. Shocking weekend jazz habit, sadly lost in retro time-warp universe of Kenny Ball, Marion Montgomery and snapping your fingers on the beat.

7. Jack Cunningham

Minister for Cabinet Office, 59

Excessively tanned. Fined for speeding (103 mph) in 1989. Weirdly, chronically and morbidly keen on fishing in Norway. Possible herring addict.

8. Chris Smith

Culture Secretary, 47

Outed, while still at Cambridge, as a committed, shameless and prosyletising mountain-climber. Also keen on dangerous "rocks". Only MP to have climbed all 280 Munros in Scotland. Cruises with Radical Ramblers and Red Rope left-wing climbing cabals.

9. Ron Davies

Former Welsh Secretary, 52

Recently revealed unhealthy past interest in wearing ludicrous, Druid- style head-dress. Other robe-style disportings resulted in his becoming judo black belt. Never quite learned to speak Welsh.

Tells fibs.

10. Stephen Byers

Chief Secretary to the Treasury, 45

Friend of Peter Mandelson. Unable to multiply 8 by 7. Famously indiscreet with journalists about trades union policy in Blackpool fish restaurants.

11. Baroness Jay

Leader of House of Lords, 59

Ex-wife of Peter Jay. Daughter of James Callaghan. Former squeeze of Carl (All the President's Men) Bernstein. Once impersonated on screen by Meryl Streep. Nuff said?

12. Alistair Darling

Social Security Secretary, 44

Rumoured to be descended from Wendy D, of Peter Pan fame. Suspected replicant reject (grey hair, black eyebrows, white beard - hopeless). London born but affects fake Scots' identity and character, even down to bringing homemade sandwiches into Strangers' Cafe.

13. George Robertson

Defence Secretary, 52

Long history of dubious relationship with cars. Once crashed motor into Navy Land Rover carrying 200 lbs of gelignite. Survived but became broken man, existential casualty, mere husk of former self etc, nothing to live for, and finally became President of Approved Driving Instructors in Scotland. Sad, really.

14. Margaret Beckett

Leader of the Commons, 55

Habitually cruel, repressive and dominating (though ineffectually so) towards own hair. Serial caravanner in Yorkshire.

15. Jack Straw

Home Secretary, 52

Addicted to Dick Francis thrillers. Runs about countryside wearing abbreviated trouser-style garments. Shameless "knocker-up" of insubstantial souffles.

16. Robin Cook

Foreign Secretary, 52

Chronic exponent of exasperated sigh. Suffers from "Brown Dog" depressions when Gordon Brown's star in ascendant. Recently afflicted with mid-life satyriasis. Compulsive user of racing form book. Tries to push "tips" upon just-say-no colleagues.

17. Gordon Brown

Chancellor of the Exchequer, 47

Serial abuser of boring phrases, esp. "boom-and-bust economy", "no quick fixes", "when it it prudent", and "sustainable levels of growth". Auto- cannibalistically addicted to own fingernails.

18. Lord Derry Irvine

Lord Chancellor, 58

Fetishistically drawn to wall-hangings, upholstery, brocade embellishments, ornate carvings of all kinds. No sense of proportion, colour, budgets or shame.

19. Frank Dobson

Health Secretary, 58

Eats too much. Had jaundice as child. Friend of Alan Clark. Fan of warty regicide Oliver Cromwell. Addicted to facial hair. Refused pre-election request by Labour spin doctors to shave it off, saying: "If it was good enough for Abe Lincoln, it's good enough for me." Possible delusions of presidential grandeur, although lives in council flat.

20. Mo Mowlam

Northern Ireland Secretary, 49

Kicked out of University living quarters for shocking behaviour, e.g. covering walls in Bacofoil. Once-compulsive football and hockey player. Rackety love life. Swears like *@!%.

21. Peter Mandelson

Trade and Industry Secretary, 45

Inscrutable Who's Who recreation named as "Collecting objects" though details unclear. Currently addicted to "wet workouts" at gymnasium named after bolted and scandalous peer.

22. David Blunkett

Education Secretary, 52

Dangerous firebrand. Led revolt at Royal Normal College for the Blind, Shrewsbury, against having to eat sausages four times a week. Sheffield Wednesday fan. Crazed, intolerant anti-sneezist. Once said, "I'd like to see the full weight of the justice system brought down on those who persistently sneeze without using a tissue."

23. Alun Michael

Welsh Secretary, 55

Won libel suit against News of the World, after falsely accused of drinking instead of attending NHS debate. Serial squash player and mountain climber.