Letter from Simon Kelner


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The Independent Online

For those of you not on holiday (or, like the Prime Minister, having your fifth break of the year), a warm welcome to the last week of August.

This is still officially the silly season, so be prepared for all sorts of wild and wacky stories, like rioting on the streets of our major cities, meltdown on the global financial markets and more death and destruction in Afghanistan.

For those of you who have been away, you may notice some changes on your return to Britain. For instance, following the riots, we are now under martial law, and judges are under instruction to lock up anyone under the age of 21 who looks threatening and is possession of a Facebook account.

And, in another worrying development, Big Brother is back on our TV screens, with a cast of has-beens and no-marks, singers and models (male and female) that stretch the word “celebrity” to its absolute limit. The producers must offer thanks every day for Sally Bercow, the Speaker’s wife – although I suspect that, when they are at home, it is she who does most of the speaking. At least she is someone in whom we might conceivably be interested, and we’d all love to have been a fly on the wall when she told her husband: “John, darling, I’ve decided to do Big Brother. I’ve left you all your dinners for the next week in the fridge in Tupperware containers. Every day is labelled, and please try to stick to the order. I’m sure I’ll be voted out early, so I’ll be back before you’ve had a chance to miss me. And don’t forget to water the plants. Oh, and I’ve cancelled all the newspapers – they’re sure to be beastly to me, and it’ll only upset you. Just remember – I’m only putting myself through this for charity, and if Max calls up, tell him I’ll do it whatever it is.”

I suppose that, in modern Britain, it is a rather outdated idea that a husband can stop his wife doing something she wants to – John Bercow is as powerless to stop his missus appearing on Big Brother as I am to stop mine watching it. Sadly, I won’t be around to see the next instalment of The Bercows. “I think it is important that you try to go on holiday,” David Cameron said this weekend. I felt that he was talking directly to me so, not wishing to fly in the face of the PM’s advice, I’ll see you in a week!