Matthew Norman on Monday: Is Eastleigh ready for the fastest politician in the West?

Plus: What will Boris Johnson choose on Desert Island Discs and does Chris Grayling need a cup of tea and a nice sit-down?

Share
Related Topics

Even as Chris Huhne, whose actress mother voiced the Speaking Clock, waits to hear what the time – sponsored by Accurist – will be, David Cameron (pictured) prepares to visit his vacated seat of Eastleigh later this week. This is most unusual. Whatever the psychological import of this campaign for both Coalition partners, the convention that PMs are too grand for by-election campaigning is such an old and powerful one that we must look elsewhere for an explanation. And having looked, we find that this is the Hampshire town where the young Benny Hill was a milkman.

It was this early career which inspired his 1971 Christmas No 1 “Ernie (The Fastest Milkman In The West)”. In 2006, on including the poignant ballad about Ernie’s fatal battle for the widowed Sue with love rival Two Ton Ted from Teddington in his Desert Island discs, Mr Cameron, pictured, revealed that it was the only song of which he knew every single word. His trip to Eastleigh must be analysed not as a high-risk political manoeuvre, then, but as a pilgrimage.

Seven years ago, Mr Cameron coyly declined Sue Lawley’s request for a rendition. But that was then, and now we must stand for the unusual vista of a florid-faced chap with a blue rosette regaling startled shoppers with “Now Ernie loved a widow, a lady known as Sue/ She lived all alone in Liddley Lane at number 22/ They said she was too good for him, she was haughty, proud and chic/ But Ernie got his cocoa there three times every week.”

Political manoeuvring to novelty songs

Mr Cameron is not the first Tory leader to plump for a novelty hit on Desert Island Discs – Mrs Thatcher, who as the one-time milk snatcher could hardly risk Ernie, picked Rolf Harris’s “Two Little Boys” – and he probably won’t be the last.

Paddy Power goes 2-7 that, when he makes a second appearance after ousting his Buller chum, Boris Johnson will choose Chuck Berry’s “My Ding-A-Ling” (“My ding-a-ling, I want you to play with my ding-a-ling”). As with the incumbent and Ernie, he knows all the words.

Time for a cup of  hot sweet tea

Concerns for the mental wellbeing of Chris Grayling, the Injustice Secretary, mount alarmingly. Last week we considered Chris’s befuddlement over gay matters as he pledged to separate gay prisoners two days before he voted to legalise gay marriage. Now he seems even less sure whether he’s Chemical Ali or Chemical Sally over sentencing. A week ago, the Mail on Sunday quoted him pledging to stop violent criminals being let off with cautions. On Tuesday he told the Commons that, in cases where alleged victims refuse to give evidence, he is considering letting rapists off with a caution. He needs to get his act together urgently, before someone sits him down with a cup of sweet tea and ask him if he can name the current Prime Minister.

Real life measles  scare for the Mail

The Daily Mail’s anguish about the rise in measles cases among teenagers who were not immunised as babies brings to mind the comic Emo Philips’s reply when a German girlfriend moaned about the dearth of decent bagels in Berlin. And who’s fault is that? In an unwonted show of arrogance, the Mail refuses to apologise for its campaign proselytising the fictional link between the MMR triple jab and autism. Nor has Melanie Phillips, who led the charge with a plethora of articles, one gem of misinformation being headlined “The Truth”. If only Mad Mel had had some newspaper precedent to warn her of the boomerang dangers inherent in that one.

A sorry affair for quiz contestant

Hats off to Steve, a contestant on ITV1’s glorious teatime quiz The Chase. “What is the name of John Major’s wife?” asked host Bradley Walsh on Friday. “Edwina,” said Steve. Soooo close.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

Senior Investment Accounting Change Manager

£600 - £700 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Investment Accounting Change...

Microsoft Dynamics AX Functional Consultant

£65000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: A rare opportun...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Children of a bygone era  

Kids these days aren't what they used to be — they're a lot better. So why the fuss?

Archie Bland
A suited man eyes up the moral calibre of a burlesque troupe  

Be they burlesque dancers or arms dealers, a bank has no business judging the morality of its clients

John Walsh
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star