Charles Clarke – Voice of Britain! (14 December 2008)

Britain's most respected political sage gives his views on the true meaning of Christmas and the right sort of wrapping paper
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The Independent Online

The other week I was sent a copy of 'The Guardian' by a kind constituent. It had a free gift; a sheet of "celebrity wrapping paper" designed by Victoria Beckham. This was, my informant says, part of a series of wrapping sheets designed by such luminaries as Jonathan Ross, Kylie Minogue, and Yoko Ono. The point my constituent wanted to make was: is it any wonder, Charles, that we live in an age of political apathy when senior statesmen such as yourself are not asked to contribute to such a valuable, and public-spirited, service.

I agree. I would welcome the opportunity to design the "Charles Clarke Celebrity Wrapping Paper" and would be prepared to reduce my usual fee for so doing. I would have gone for something that reflected the true meaning of Christmas, and designed paper that either featured a picture of me as I made my way among the poor of my constituency, or, alternatively, a photograph of a large festive blow-out of a meal with steaming plates of juicy red beef, potatoes, turkey, Brussels, pheasant, carrots, onions, peas, chipolatas, a selection of root vegetables, kettle chips, and lashings of gravy.

Of course, some say that only self-important, celebrity-fixated, pious, colour-blind tightwads will actually use the celebrity paper to wrap their gifts. I think this unfair, but I fear that there will be precious few gifts enveloped in it this Yuletide. If only the paper had chosen figures of real stature to design their wrapping, this sorry state of affairs might have been different. Perhaps they will ask me next year.

Charles Clarke was talking to an elf