At home with a most delightful 'Bastard'

The Agreeable World of Wallace Arnold
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The Independent Online
AS A leading political commentator, I have found this a hectic week to say the very least. "Morning Tony", "Morning Edward" I say to old chums Messrs Marlow and Leigh as we assemble at 7 sharp every morning on College Green to waylay a passing camera crew.

To keep my finger on the pulse of public opinion I have been staying in Mrs Teresa Gorman's house - or "lovely home", as she prefers to call it - around the corner in Lord North Street. Teresa is a simply marvellous hostess and has made me feel most comfortable, positioning her prized collection of Gonks waving in the first floor front window to give me a warm welcome. Teresa's sitting-room is also a delight: it must be years since I have seen one of those highly effective lamps in which brightly coloured pink and orange blobs of a jelly-like substance drift up and down and I have never before encountered 10 together in the same room.

"I find them ever so relaxing, Wallace dear," Teresa explained to me over a light sofa dinner of best M&S caviare-style Fishy Bobbles, hot from the microwave. "You see that yellow blob," she exclaimed, pointing at a little blob that seemed to have become stuck to the bottom. "I think of that as the lovely John Major, bless him." My bedroom, too, is deliciously cosy with Georgian-style wallpaper in lime and mauve, a Snoopy eiderdown plus, of course, Teresa's unique collection of old After Eight boxes delicately sellotaped together to form a perfect replica of Big Ben.

"But my dear Wallace," I hear you say, "this is not House and Garden magazine, this is a deeply serious column of well-informed political commentary. Much as we enjoy picking up tips on home decoration from Mrs Gorman, we expect something a little more intellectually demanding from your award- winning column. Get a move on, dear boy!" Fair enough, say I, and in deference to your wishes, I will now return to College Green and to my many television appearances since the Prime Minister's bolt from the blue on Thursday last.

I am, as you know, a leading Euro-sceptic. As I have made clear over and over again, I am sick to death of the petty rules and regulations being forced upon our once Great Nation by the Brussels bureaucrats. Did you know for instance that:

l It is now completely illegal for a British fishmonger to sell anoraks or swimwear without applying for a separate licence from the EEC.

l A publican in Grimsby reports being forced to sell escargots on draught after a surprise inspection from a French EEC controls inspector. Beer in the Great British pub will no longer be able to be diluted with the 25 per cent motor oil which gives it its distinctive deep brown colouring and flavour.

l By the year 2002 Turkish will be the first language for shopkeepers and customers in parts of Dorking, Leatherhead and surrounding areas.

l Now that the Vatican City has joined the EEC the traditional tin of British Heinz Baked Beans is to include an effigy of His Holiness Pope John Paul II on every label and profits from every fifth baked bean eaten will be going to the Vatican coffers.

l As from 1 October 1999, much-loved repeats of all time family TV classics such as Mr and Mrs, Father Dear Father and My Wife Next Door on primetime television are to be forcibly replaced by seasons of Ingmar Bergman films.

l By the end of the year the good Old British Banger will no longer be able to contain the 80 per cent animal hair that gives it its much-loved Great British taste and, further more, as a result of a draconian EEC Brussels directive, loveable vermin such as the stoat, the field-mouse, the mole, and the blackbird will no longer be able to be used in the manufacture of the Great British Pork Pie. Its crust top - traditionally made of the very finest old corn-plasters - is to be abolished in favour of a covering more "politically correct".

Like my fellow leading Euro-sceptics I believe that the crisis facing the Tory leadership has been forced upon it entirely through its subservience to the whims of the Brussels bureaucrats. And as I stand on College Green with Tony and Edward giving the viewers of Pebble Mill at One the benefit of my political insights, my mind wafts back to Lord North Street and to Mrs Gorman as she stirs her spoon around her bone-china Dynasty-style Harrods deluxe tea set anxiously awaiting the call.