Don't let the burghers get you down

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'MADAM Speaker,' said Mr Michael Condoms, 'I'm embarrassed.'

'I'm not surprised, luv,' said Betty Boothroyd, in front of a packed House last Tuesday. 'If I were called Madam Durex Spermicidal Arouser, I'd be embarrassed, too. Now just get on and read your resignation speech, there's a dear.' And she took out her knitting.

'Madam Speaker, I come from . . .' But here the burly figure of the 59- year-old retired soldier was seen to crumple into sobs, and the nation held its breath. 'Madam Speaker, I come from a long line of Condoms.'

'Hear, hear.'

'Or-durr, or-durr.'

'My ancestors came over with the Conqueror, and le Grand Condom himself was noted for many deeds of derring-do. From the earliest days of our fledgeling democracy, my family has been proud to boast that there has always been a condom in the House.'

'Or-durr, or-durr] Don't you think you'd better get to the point?' said Miss Boothroyd, and without further ado she whisked Mr Condom's speech from under his nose and tore up the first 10 pages.

The astonished MP read on: '. . . and to my wife and mistress, without whom none of this would have been possible. I come now, finally, to the question, was I right or was I wrong to give Mr Asil Nadir a watch engraved with my family motto: 'Don't let the buggers get down on you if they're not wearing one of these'? Let me say straight away that I have never, ever attempted to come to any conclusion at all about whether Mr Nadir was or was not a villain. As far as I was concerned he could have been Bill Sykes or the Emperor Heliogabalus or the third Kray twin.

'He could have been Attila the Hun, fresh from the sack of Rome, dripping with the gore of a thousand vestal virgins] To me it mattered not one jot. What mattered was simply this . . .' And here he paused magnificently for emphasis.

'What mattered to me was the fact that Mr Nadir's PR was a constituent of mine. What mattered to me was that he said there was 'something wrong with the system' whereby a man can be bad-mouthed after millions of pounds go missing from the companies he controls. Those were his very words- and when I spoke to Mr Nadir's then council, Mr Scrivener, he used the very same words. 'Michael,' he said, 'there's something wrong with the system']'

This was too much for the Speaker, who, in a move unprecedented in constitutional history, butted in: 'But Mr Condoms, my precious, if you thought there was something wrong wi't'system, why didn't you join t'Labour Party?'

But Mr Condoms magnificently ignored this. 'I asked for evidence that there was something wrong with the system. Mr Nadir gave the evidence to Mr Scrivener. I approached Mr Scrivener who gave the evidence to me. And I - yes, I am not ashamed to admit it - I swallowed it whole] That's the kind of man I am] A fat, gullible clot - and I glory in it]'

The Member for East Hampshire was clearly rising to his theme. 'If we see something wrong with the system, what are we supposed to do? Why, we must destroy the system] If justice is a sham, we must destroy justice] We must tear down the law courts with our bare hands, brothers] Hang all the judges] String up the clerks of court] Garrotte the stenographers]'

At this point the legal officers responsible for advising Madam Speaker began gesticulating wildly, and Miss Boothroyd herself put down her knitting.

The next day, Wednesday, was full of action. Outside Mr Mates's home, well-wishers and prospective clients were waiting patiently for an audience. Bill Sykes, the Third Kray Twin and the Emperor Heliogabalus were all there. Attila the Hun was expected at any moment.

MEANWHILE, Jon Snow, of Channel 4 News, was arranging an interview with Mr Scrivener, the man who persuaded Mr Condoms that there was something rotten in the state of Denmark. And they got on to the subject of the alleged bribing of the judge in the case, Mr Justice Tucker.

Mr Scrivener said: 'Since Henry II's rule, no judge has ever been accused of accepting a bribe. It's a most extraordinary thing. None of us was ever interviewed by the police; there wasn't sufficient evidence for that. I think one ought to inquire who allowed this allegation to be made against a High Court judge.'

By the end of the week, Mr Scrivener had a new set of 'extraordinary things' to think about. According to the Sunday Times, there had indeed been a 'conspiracy' to bribe Mr Justice Tucker, but the money had not been raised. The whole plot seems to have depended on Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber being prepared to buy a couple of Victorian paintings without asking the relevant questions of provenance. Once Sir Andrew realised that items had fallen off the back of a well-known fruit-packing company, all negotiations were off.

According to the Sunday Times, the conspirators in this case were Mr Nadir and his accomplices. If so, the story is as follows: first, Mr Nadir tries to set up a conspiracy to bribe the judge on his case; then, this story gets out and investigations are made; because investigations are made, Mr Nadir begins to assert that the honour of Mr Justice Tucker has been impugned, in order that he should be taken off the case, because he had shown too much favour to Mr Nadir in the preliminary hearing.

By now, even though there is not the faintest suggestion that any money was ever discussed with Mr Justice Tucker, let alone found its way into his tucker-bag, there is supposed to be 'a question' whether Mr Nadir could receive a fair trial 'if he returned to England'.

A brilliant example of the use of squid's ink. Well done, thou good and faithful Condoms.