Egg-bound in this Tory pudding

Bereft of ideas, the Government is reduced to cooking up different recipes with the same old ingredients Rather like a chef who will cook nothing but eggs, the Government has completely run out o ideas
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The question no one can quite frame properly (the lethal question no Tory can answer) is: are you, the Tories, proposing to fight the next election in the hopes of winning? Are you seriously intending to prolong the agony? If you are going to ask for another five years (and supposing, in an astonishing reversal, the electorate grants your wish), who is to guarantee that at the end of that term you will not come back and ask for yet another five years, and another after that, and so on?

It is this continual asking for more, this hogging of central power, this obstinate request for a second, a third, a fourth chance that has become so intolerable. We admit that, technically speaking, there is no rule against a party being returned to office any number of times. It is just that, politically, emotionally, ethically and aesthetically, this repetition of Tory governments has saturated every appetite. The Tories themselves are sick of Tories in power. They have had enough of a good thing.

A meal was once devised in which every dish was based on eggs. Each concoction, considered individually, was delicious. You sat down to dainty little pastry nests of quails' eggs, plonked on a scrumptious dab of mushroom sauce. Next came that wonderful egg and lemon soup, avgolemono.There followed a creditable egg mayonnaise, in which the egginess of the mayonnaise was surpassed only by the extra egginess of the eggs themselves, which had been chosen from one of the best breeds of hen on one of the best, most free-ranging egg farms in the country.

Naturally, a banquet of this kind could not continue without a souffl or two, brilliantly timed, and there were still certain kinds of custard to follow, but somewhere along the line the bodies of the guests went into revolt. They had received enough egg information. They had had enough variants on the pullet-sperm theme.

So that, well before the climax of the evening, which was to have been a glass of egg-nog followed by a nourishing mug of Ovaltine, the diners were all either dead or in despair.

Bright-eyed waitresses loaded down with trays of eggs mimosa were begged not to approach the tables. Superbly flambed jam omelettes were greeted with groans and pleas for mercy, and when the trolleys of perfectly decent crmes brules were sent whizzing back into the kitchen, the chef, the sous-chefs and the matres-sauciers took umbrage and came out to argue with the guests.

They had as yet, the staff argued, not even scratched the surface of the egg repertoire - the sauces, the savouries, the tortas, the les- flottantes, all the modern variants on the meringue theme, the prairie oysters - whole continents of invention were as yet unexplored.

Then there were new ways of absorbing egg substances, by inhalation of the powdered form, by intravenous advocaat drip, by absorption through the skin, by operations in which the stomach was opened up and crammed full of traditional Fifties egg-and-cress mixture. The kitchen, in other words, was not running out of ideas.

But as the chef outlined his vision of the way the banquet might continue, the diners began to experience that feeling you get at the age of, say, 14, when you try furtively to combine a tumbler full of sweet sherry with a couple of panatellas and a box of Black Magic. But, while a goodly vomit and a long sleep will do much to alleviate the childish disorder, in the case of our egg-bound guests the vomiting option seemed not to be on offer. It had somehow been ruled out by the chef.

The only way forward, he explained, as he locked the dining-room doors, was for the guests to continue with the same meal, to think back on the past triumphs and to anticipate the further glorious forays into the wonderful world of eggs. "For instance," said the chef, "how many of you have ever experienced a proper, home-made and entirely successful kidney omelette?"

"A kidney omelette!" the guests gasped. "On top of all this? Are you serious?"

"Serious?" shrieked the chef. "Am I serious? Hey Carlo," (Carlo was a sous-chef), "bring on the kidneys and I will show our guests, at the table, how to make a kidney omelette.

"Now, the secret of a kidney omelette," and here the guests indulged in long sobs that seemed to arise from the depths of the diaphragm and to shatter the body as they went, "the secret of a kidney omelette is: one! lots of kidneys, like so; two! lots and lots of eggs," and, as he spoke, he cracked the eggs into a huge bowl, "and, three! as short a cooking time as possible.

"This omelette should be baveuse. You say, I think, slobbering. This is not one of those rubbery, rchauff omelettes you get on airplanes. This is an omelette which, when you stick a knife into it, pours out the kidney mixture which should be pink and" - here the guests were rolling around on the floor - "almost raw, with a characteristic smell of - mmm! kidneys."

By now the surviving guests were tearing pages out of their diaries and scrawling farewell notes to their families - gasping and gagging the while - in the vain hope that if they were ever found, their nearest and dearest would know that their thoughts had been with them to the last.

Now, you might say the chef must have been mad. I would say limited rather than mad; a chef of limited scope and without the ability to detect the moment at which his cuisine had outlived its welcome. In this respect he is very like John Major.

Mr Major, stung by Labour taunts that he had no more egg recipes up his sleeve, rushed to announce last week what he would be up to in the next session of Parliament. And guess what he would be up to: he would be cracking down on immigration. And guess what kind of immigration he would be cracking down on: he would be cracking down on asylum-seekers. This was the kidney omelette Mr Major pulled out of his hat last week.

Meanwhile, Jonathan Aitken contributed a 1,000-year-old egg of his own: let's be beastly to the BBC again; let's make threatening noises in the direction of the Today programme. Did you know the Chancellor of the Exchequer was interrupted 32 times by John Humphrys in one interview? Thirty-two times! This is what Mr Aitken spends his time checking up on. This is what exercises his intellect.

Meanwhile, the public has begun to point out in the polls that a change of chef will make no difference: Michael Heseltine and his egg dishes are just as unwelcome as Mr Major and his. Surfeit is surfeit. Nausea is nausea. Eggs is eggs. We have had them up to here.

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