Living in fear of Michael Howard

Related Topics
My mailbag is full of letters from people desperate to know what they should do if they meet Michael Howard unexpectedly. Should they have a go? Should they notify the authorities? Or just ignore him?

To take just one example, I have received a letter from one old lady living in south London who says to me: "These days I am absolutely terrified to go out in the streets in case I should be approached by the Home Secretary, or someone looking like him. I feel I would be in danger of my life.

"I can't quite pin down my worries, but don't you think there is something a little terrifying about that smile? Something just a little manic?

"I would be worried stiff that he might ask me some question that I couldn't answer to his satisfaction, and that he would go berserk and do something unpredictable, or even worse become very oily and smug and do something entirely predictable.

"Of course, I do take elementary precautions. Each time I go out I make sure I have left all my money and valuables behind and I never talk to strangers and I don't take sweets from politicians and when people talk to me, I say demurely, `Please don't talk to me because I am a little old lady and easily frightened, and if you lay a finger on me I will scream blue murder, also I am well armed and will drill you full of holes till the life juices run out on the floor,' and generally this works well enough, as people tend to avoid me after that, but I am not sure if this would work on the Home Secretary, who seems to be a peculiarly persistent sort of gentleman.

"I mean, he goes on with ideas long after everyone else in the world has given them up, so he is clearly not amenable to rational argument, and I expect he still thinks that prison works, even though nobody else thinks that prison does very much for anyone, it is obvious to anyone with the meanest intelligence that nine-tenths of the British prison population shouldn't even be in prison, but maybe Michael Howard doesn't have the meanest intelligence, that would certainly explain a lot.

"What I am driving at is, if I were approached by Michael Howard in the street, should I try to keep him talking until help arrived, or should I pretend I didn't understand him and hurry on?

"I can see risks in both approaches. If I tried to keep him talking I might not be able to resist clouting him with my handbag at some of the twaddle he talks. If, on the other hand, I pretended not to understand him, he might think I was an immigrant of some kind, and try to have me deported on the spot, and then I might clout him with my handbag and be in trouble again.

"I take great comfort in knowing that I am not alone in this. My cousin Agnes agrees with me. So does my nephew Bob. So do most of the judges on England, apparently, as not a week goes past without one or other of them standing up in court and saying that Michael Howard holds crazy ideas.

"Of course, they don't say straight out that Michael Howard is crazy, because he might do something really out of order then, like sue them all for libel, but reading between the lines that is what they are saying.

"In other words, we are in a situation where half my family and a lot of judges and most of the media and all the opposition are saying that Michael Howard is a menace, so you can understand why a little old lady like me is afraid to roam the streets when he is still at large, and why I am turning to you for help now.

"I have written to the Ombudsman asking for advice but he is no good, all I said was, `Dear Ombudsman, What should I do if I meet Michael Howard in the street?' and he wrote back and said, `Dear Madam, I only deal with specific complaints so this is out of my ambit, however if you bump into Michael Howard between you and me I would go for the goolies and break his glasses as he bends over in pain, yours sincerely', and what kind of advice is that to get from the Ombudsman? Well, quite good, actually, but I would like to hear your thoughts on this as well.

"yours etc ..."

Well, Mrs Peters, I have been in the writing game too long not to recognise a leg pull when I see it. Your letter is a complete sham, and I wouldn't have even printed it in my column if I had had time to write something of my own.

React Now

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

SSRS Report Developer - Urgent Contract - London - £300pd

£300 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: SSRS Report Developer – 3 Mon...

KS1 Teacher

£95 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Key Stage 1 teacher require...

HR Business Partner - Essex - £39,000 plus benefits

£32000 - £39000 per annum + benefits + bonus: Ashdown Group: Generalist HR Man...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel like your sales role...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Several police officers walk near downtown Ottawa  

Nigel Farage on the Ottawa shooting: It could just as easily happen on the streets of London

Nigel Farage
Simon Stevens, NHS England chief executive  

To improve the NHS, it must stop being a political issue

Mary Dejevsky
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?