Brian is unwell but the nurse is very efficient

The Agreeable World of Wallace Arnold
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The Independent Online
Dark days, indeed. But heaven forfend that those whose lives have been torn to shreds by Thursday's grim results should take the easy option and choose to nip round to their nearest psychoanalyst or - dread word! counsellor.

Deep breath, Wallace, deep breath. And blow! All better now, all better. I doubt I shall ever be able to assuage from my memory the scene I encountered upon popping my head around the door of Smith Square in the early hours of Friday morning. With my keen antennae for the feelings of my fellow humans, something told me that Dr Mawhinney, normally such an ebullient fellow, had taken the results desperately badly. Perhaps it was the way he sat on his bottom in the corner of his office, a brown paper bag over his head, tearing newspapers into thin but perfectly equal strips, all the while singing an up-tempo version of Verdi's Requiem in his perfect soprano that first alerted me to his failure to see the sunny side.

A sixth sense told me there was nothing a friendly jest could not cure. "Cheer up, Brian - it may never happen!" I said. It must have been around this point that the poor fellow burst into floods of tears.

Cue some friendly words of advice from his old friend Wallace! Pulling up a chair, I first saw to it that my goodly pipe was well aflame before I took a deep breath and gave Brian the benefit of my long experience.

"A hobby can prove a marvellous rest and relaxation for a politician who finds himself - how should one put it? - with time on his hands!" I advised, sagely. "In her darkest days, dear old Mrs T found enormous consolation in Origami, the ancient Chinese art of paper-folding," I told him. "In only six weeks, she had managed to construct a perfectly serviceable crushed swan. At least I think it was a crushed swan. It certainly was by the time I threw it into the wagger-pagger!"

Brian whimpered a little. I felt that the message was getting through. "Alternatively", I continued, "you might very much enjoy a little crochet. All it takes is nimble fingers and a happy-go-lucky temperament. You would be perfect for it, old boy!"

Sadly, he seemed not to respond. At this point, I dipped into my trusty briefcase, and brought out three of my most treasured tomes. "One of these should do the trick, Brian!" I said, placing them in a neat pile on the floor, within spitting distance of his left buttock. He made no move in their direction, so I sought to explain my choice.

"When poor old Ted Heath went under in '74, he took time off to write three marvellous books, bringing his hobbies to life s that others could enjoy them too. Just look at this one, Brian - Music - A Joy for Life. Frankly, I see you as a drummer, Brian. I'm told the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill-on-Sea may have a vacancy for a part time percussionist in their resident band for the dansants in the summer months. There's nothing like the old songs! Go for it, Brian! You've got nothing to lose!"

But he was inconsolable, blathering and blubbering like a man bereaved beneath his brown paper bag. I put a hand on his damp shoulder. "For God's sake, don't blame yourself, Brian!" I said. "It's not your fault that the Conservative Party suffered the worst defeat in their illustrious history. It's not your fault if the campaign was all over the place, with every day a change of direction. It's not your fault if not a living soul trusted your shifty-eyes and dreadful complexion. And, as I say, you will find the old songs a terrible consolation."

"Shut your gob, you ratbag!" came the unexpected response.

"To be perfectly frank, that's not one I know," I replied, jovially. "But whistle it, and it may well come back to me".

By yesterday lunchtime, I had already begun to notice improvements in Brian. His nurse informed me that he had started taking solids, and he was showing a keen interest in Tom and Jerry cartoons on the gogglebox. From time to time, though, he would grow livid that the mouse was permitted to wreak such havoc on an orderly household, and at the top of his voice he would tell us to put a call through to Rentokil. Tomorrow, crochet, the next day balsa-wood, and before very long we shall have rebuilt this great party of ours.

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