Sorry, the angels are out today
Tuesday 25 June 1996
Only in America, I hear some readers cry complacently. Not at all. From where I was sitting high above the House of Commons yesterday, I could see plenty of MPs attempting to dock with their angels and trying to commune with their PAPs. All of them had, of course, chosen rather heroic and admirable angels. As a result some were having immense difficulty - as Nasa Mission Control used to put it - with the docking procedure.
Take Roger Freeman, Hezza's deputy - the number two's number two. In his own mind he walks with Wolsey and More, exercising considerable influence in the Counsels of State. Yesterday he stood, rattling his chain of office, to answer a written question from Tam Dalyell about parliamentary procedure. When he had finished his first go Tetchy Tam responded thus, "why has the deputy Prime Minister [Heseltine] funked answering this question?" Cast out from the glories of his mental Hampton Court, Freeman could only wail that he was the minister responsible, it was his job, he'd answered all the questions, spoken in the debates, he was sorry if the honourable gentleman wasn't satisfied ... Angel undocked.
The big question, however, was who the Prime Minister's personal archetype predecessor would turn out to be. Due to give a sceptical House his report on the triumphant conclusion of his Continental War would he choose Wellington, Drake, Henry V or Nelson?
Actually Mr Major's tone was considerably less martial and overweening than this. Yes, he had gone there to do a job; they all had. It had been tough - always is with European opponents. Close contest, but he was proud of the boys. They'd dug in and got a result. Clearly the angel that the Prime Minister had been trying to dock with was Terry Venables - the substantial problem being that he couldn't actually (when push came to shove) quite remember the actual score.
During Mr Major's post-match analysis, Tony Blair sat opposite him with a look of growing contempt. His hair grew long and lank, a wart appeared on his upper lip and Oliver Cromwell slumped there, contemplating with disgust the ungodly and incompetent, evincing an almost religious yearning to dismiss what might, after 16 years, be called the Long Government. For God's sake go!" he yelled silently at Mr Major. Behind him the New Model Army - knowing what they fight for (well, sometimes) and loving what they know (er, mostly) merged with their archetype predecessors as they strove to overturn the old, corrupt order.
Into the centre of his own Athenian Agora, strode Demosthenes - Paddy Ashdown - to dazzle the polis with his attack on the Government's "puerile policy of posturing". This magnificent alliteration fell a bit flat; it probably sounds better in ancient Greek.
The last word went to a Trojan. Cassandra Cash had cried woe, woe and thrice woe on the head of the House of Tory, should he not shun Europa. At last the Prime Minister had realised the truth of this prophecy and the curse was officially transferred to the doomed Mr Blair, whose "opinion polls have dropped by nearly 10 per cent". Mr Cash sat down, robes rent and hair torn, another successful docking completed.
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