I agreed that the picture was thoroughly gloomy, but he begged to differ. "From our initial poll-readings," he said, "it seems there's a solid 2 per cent rise in our support from rural Welsh divorcees between the ages of 35 and 42 in white-collar jobs - so things are definitely looking up."
Nevertheless, we agreed I should supervise a complete "makeover" (dread word!) on William's public image. As is widely known, I have performed miracles on every Conservative leader since Sir Winston Churchill. In 1954 I delivered a memo to Number 10 urging Winnie to "get with-it" by replacing his rather passe walking-shoes with a pair of dashing new "winkle-pickers", and brushing his remaining hairs into the type of daredevil quiff favoured by Mr Lonnie Donegan. But sadly, he chose to ignore my advice, and within less than a year he had resigned from office.
It was I, too, who persuaded Anthony Eden to fix that novelty moustache to his upper lip every morning, and I who advised Heath against marriage, correctly judging aloofness to be his trump card. But my greatest success came with Margaret Thatcher. In early 1983 I persuaded her to go for a more youthful image by placing her dynamic, can-do young son, Mark, firmly in the foreground. Over the years, my office arranged for him to get lost in the desert, to dip his toes into the international arms market and to win over the Great British Public with his entrepreneurial spirit and dashing good looks.
With John Major, my task was to perform a makeover on him in late '96, so as to be sure he would walk away with the election in '97. With this in mind, I singled out all his most attractive aspects - that beautiful speaking voice, that air of decisiveness, that way with words - and told him to highlight them all on a soapbox. If I say it myself, the ploy worked brilliantly, and though Major just missed staying in power, he came a very creditable second and - more importantly - succeeded in giving Mr Tony Blair a very bloody nose indeed!
Whither Hague? Obviously, our plans for his makeover must remain under wraps, but I can reveal the essentials. Over the past six months, I have conducted research on scientifically selected focus groups consisting of a broad range of human beings, namely a fat man, a thin woman, a fat woman and a thin man, plus a Northern baby, a border-terrier and a middle- aged terrapin.
The response has been fantastic. Both the fat woman and the thin man registered "Strong Approval" towards William's baseball cap, with the terrapin, the Northern baby and the fat man all awarding it a very healthy "Fair to Middling". In the parlance of the profession, this means we have "lift-off". So the first of the new baseball caps will be premiered on the morning of 25 December, when William will be seen walking into his local church wearing a very festive cap, replete with streamers, paper- chains, seasonal angels and miniature reindeer. This is set to capture the imagination of the world's media and poor old Mr Blair won't know what's hit him!
Shown expert computer-enhanced artistic re-creations, the fat woman, the fat man, the border-terrier and the Northern baby all expressed "Strong Approval" for the addition of a large bushy beard to William's face. "It gives him a strong look of leading Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw," noted the fat man, "and it would certainly make me vote for him." There was also widespread approval for William appearing in medium-length shorts.
So by this time next year, William, clad in shorts and beard, should be on his way to victory. This leaves only Ffion to inject some style into: a shell-suit, a perm and a pair of platform heels, methinks.Reuse content