Dear Mrs Kierans
A founder member of The Independent David Lister joined the paper in 1986 as Assistant Home Editor. He became the paper's arts correspondent in 1988 and is now Arts Editor and writes a column each Saturday. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.
Tuesday 07 February 1995
Those were days of innocence. John Major's mother, we learn from the belated revelations of your friendship this week, flew into a fury not at any alleged sexual impropriety but at your eagerness to do her son's washing.
You knew the way to a young, upwardly mobile garden gnome-maker's assistant's heart. To the heart of every young man, in fact. Worldliness, experience, a young family to practise playing surrogate father on, and open arms for the week's washing. Relationships were so much more practical in those pre-sleaze days.
We learn that it was you who set the young Major on the road to self-improvement, influenced him to join a bank, encouraged him to "throw himself into the Young Conservatives". But, Mrs Kierans, have you never wondered in the past four years if you couldhave instilled a more radical bent in your young paramour?
You were a single mother with two children. As you both walked the kids in the park, soaking up the Brixton sunshine, why didn't you whisper into the impressionable ear sweet nothings about the inadequacies of child benefit, the income support system andthe need for workplace creches?
Rather than a grey-haired lady dodging newspaper photographers in a Streatham supermarket, you could have been a heroine of the feminist movement, your statue towering over the Brixton and Camberwell one-way system, hand outstretched to the bespectacled youth at your feet.
Did you never of an evening watch the pictures of the Profumo scandal unfolding on the black-and-white TV set? A warning to your protege never to promote ministers who had a penchant for models and actresses would have saved so much heartache later.
Perhaps you both stared at the coverage of the Great Train Robbery instead, implanting into that political infant an unease with British Rail. Why did you not reassure him, show him the romance of those last days of steam and go backpacking together along the Great Western route? A man with such memories would consider privatisation unthinkable.
Instead, you chose holidays in Spain, chaperoned by John's mother, but firing the lad with a zeal for European unity as the three of you chatted over the sangria and paella. How the Euro-sceptics must wish you had shared a hamburger in Manhattan instead.
Give me the love-lorn adolescent and I will give you the Prime Minister. But you could have given us so much more.
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