Matthew Norman on Monday: Why must the Johnson family cloak themselves in obscurity?

Plus: Does anyone have a clue what IDS is on about? And Jonathan Aitken invites us to join him for a fantasy glass of champagne in Paris...or would that be Switzerland?

Share

If one area of national life leaves you feeling perpetually starved of information, it is the life and times of the Family Johnson. While one of course admires the clan’s efforts to cloak itself in obscurity, many of us become anxious and morose when hours slip by with barely a word on their endeavours, and the deficit was plain yesterday when the Mail on Sunday restricted itself to three pages of Johnsonabilia. For a tantalising moment the paper seemed poised to give the family due prominence. But the front-page headline “Big Brother To Switch Off Your Fridge” in fact concerned something other than a Boris plan  to punish Jo for the No 10 job by targeting a guerrilla campaign at his younger sibling’s white electricals. Admittedly, paterfamilias Stanley supplied two pages of sub-Woosterish wittering, but sister Rachel avoided referring to any sibling in her column. These starvation rations cannot continue, and I urge a theatrical impresario to commission The Johnsons Musical for the West End stage. Early casting ideas include Philip Seymour Hoffman as Boris, Benedict Cumberbach as Jo, Hermione Norris as Rachel, and Stephen Fry as Stanley. The suggestion for the show-stopper is a number, tonally modelled on the  breast-beating chorus in Aeschylus’ irreverent comic romp The Trojan Women, entitled “In The Name of Mercy, Leave Us Johnsons In Peace...”

Thanks for  sharing, Iain

Iain Duncan Smith deploys his towering intellect to isolate what was so moving about the Thatcher funeral. “I watched them brilliantly lower the coffin on to their arms,” says the former Guardsman of the soldiers bearing the casket, “and move it on to the podium. You could see it was a real strain on them... I thought to myself – that really was it, the simplicity of how she reached out to ordinary people in their daily lives, and gave them some kind of hope.” Me neither, but if anyone does have a clue what he was trying to say, IDS would love to hear from you at the Department for Work and Pensions.

Further brilliance from the DWP

Rejoice, rejoice, meanwhile, for  Mr Duncan Smith has had yet another wizard wheeze. Rather than save £2bn a year by ending the winter heating allowance and other freebies for comfortably-off pensioners, he invites them to return the money to the Treasury if they choose. This is even more brilliant than military coffin-lowering technique  –  so brilliant that he will want to extend this principle of the voluntary benefits opt-out to the disabled, from whom a more measly annual saving of some £750m is being clawed back.

The Paris Ritz, Jonathan? Really?

Leaping aboard the latest literary bandwagon is Jonathan Aitken, who will publish Margaret Thatcher: Power And Personality (Shawshank Press) in the autumn. By way of an early plug, the old con starred in an entertaining Daily Mail questionnaire, mentioning that his fantasy perfect-day  would include a glass of Dom Perignon at the Paris Ritz. This, you may recall, was the hotel at the centre of his downfall. If for some reason Jonathan cannot get an imaginary flight from Sydney to Charles de Gaulle, Jonathan could fly to Switzerland instead, and later claim under oath to have been at the Ritz all along. Who would ever find out?

Strong words from Soubry

Tory attempts to lower council-election expectations (“if we don’t lose control of the Punjab, it will be an endorsement of David Cameron’s leadership”) in full swing. But any Conservatives tempted to resume the plotting  after Thursday should pay heed to Anna Soubry. The plain speaking public health minister talks of the urgent need to “stop people in the party engaging in quite a lot of twattery”. Well said, and disloyal Tories are reminded of the political saw, as coined by Anna’s role model Stanley Baldwin during the Abdication crisis, that twattery will get you nowhere.

Blair’s not forgotten his old friends

Tony Blair’s post-Iraq rehabilitation gathers pace with a photo of him shaking Dick Cheney’s hand at the opening of The George W Bush Ladybird Presidential Library in Texas. Mr T’s latest coffee-table book, Me And My Besties, featuring glossy colour-prints of him with Berlusconi, Gadaffi, Assad, Mubarak, Murdoch, Cheney and other fellow philanthropists, is scheduled for the lucrative Christmas market at £500. He has promised Bush’s library a personalised copy, we gather, but even his charity has its limits – Dubya will be expected to provide the crayons himself.

React Now

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

Opilio Recruitment: Senior Developer

£50k - 60k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: We have an exciting Seni...

Opilio Recruitment: Senior Front End Developer

£50k - 70k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: We have an exciting Seni...

Opilio Recruitment: Senior Digital Designer

£50k - 55k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: An exciting opportunity ...

Opilio Recruitment: Vertical Sales Director

Market related: Opilio Recruitment: An exciting opportunity has arisen for a...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Buy from Amazon and Apple and it’s you that ends up owned

Boyd Tonkin
Hughes in Durban in 2009, celebrating the first of his two centuries in the second Test against South Africa  

Sport will always be risky – we must accept that, even in the wake of the tragic death of Phillip Hughes

Rosie Millard
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game