The Agreeable World of Wallace Arnold: How I aim to clinch the Tory leadership for JR

Click to follow
The Independent Online
An exciting prospect indeed. Believe me, there would be nothing to match a reinvigorated Conservative Party - the New Conservative Party - led by my zippy young confrere Mr John Redwood. And for this reason, I have accepted the position of his Campaign Manager for the forthcoming Leadership election.

I need hardly remind you that he is a highly intelligent young man. His achievements in this field are legion. John carries a slide-rule with him everywhere and will not be parted from his signed copy of A Brief History of Time, which he has read twice, all the way through. To prove his intelligence to the Wokingham Constituency Selection Committee, he stood up and managed to pat his head with his left hand and simultaneously circle his right hand around his stomach for a full two minutes - a feat that has proved the downfall of some of the greatest minds. And only the day before yesterday he managed in my presence to count all the way from one to 10,000 backwards in less than seven minutes 45 seconds, using nothing but his fingers and toes. Below I list other accomplishments of this leading member of Mensa - I need hardly add that he has had their authenticity certified by a local JP.

He can recite the Wokingham-Waterloo railway timetable (excluding Sundays and bank holidays) while at the same time standing on one foot in a bucket of warm water.

He is able to read books - both fiction and non-fiction - in half the time of his closest rivals. He achieves this remarkable result by reading only every other word.

Contrary to rumour, he is very good with people. Introduced to someone new, he is able to convert the stranger's name into a binary system in 15 seconds, employing a highly complex system of algebraic notation, and in a further 10 seconds he will have worked out the square root of the stranger's name to six decimal points. "Nice to meet you, Mr Woodhouse," he says, and after a 15-second pause he adds, "7.89306." This has been a tremendous ice-breaker in the past, proving particularly successful during his nation- wide constituency visits in the general election.

Yet still there are those who will persist in declaring that the poor fellow lacks the "personal touch". Mud tends to stick, so it has been

my first job as his Campaign Manager to give him a crash course in dealings with other folk. Our sessions started on Tuesday, when I taught him a sense of humour, with special reference to jokes.

He was quick to learn. "Why did the chicken cross the road, John?" I asked him. "Which chicken, what road and when exactly?" he replied. Slowly but surely, I eased him away from this literal approach into something more fluid. By the end of the first session, he had almost mastered this and one other joke: "What is black and white and red all over?" I judged him ready to entertain a roomful of people.

"Hello everybody," said John, chuckling with merriment, "Tell me this - why did the chicken cross the road? And here's the answer - a newspaper! Ho! Ho! Ho!"

We all made a great effort to chuckle along with the poor chap, even though he was frankly less than word-perfect. He now plans to use what he calls "the newspaper crossing the road" joke when interviewed by Sir David on the Breakfast with Frost programme, just to demonstrate a more larky, laddish side.

John (he is at present thinking of calling himself "Johnny" for more widespread electoral appeal) has also made great strides in the sphere of his personal appearance. My old friend and quaffing partner Gordon Reece has advised him to go for an altogether looser feel, with an emphasis on softer fabrics - velvets, linens, viscose - and raunchier personal grooming. Only last night, he appeared at the Wokingham Young Conservative Discotheque clad in lycra loon-pants and a psychedelic tank-top, his hair got up in the very latest Rasta fashion (dread locks!).

We are also helping him to develop a passionate style of oratory, more in keeping with the present political climate in which it seems de rigueur to believe in some "emotional" way in what one is saying. I have thus tutored him to emphasise every third word, simultaneously banging his fist into the air to suggest extra conviction.

"With the ANNUAL rate of INFLATION down to AN acceptable level, WE must do WHAT we can TO ensure that ANY pay increases ARE in line WITH our annual TARGETS!" he boomed in our practice run, furious and heartfelt, like a young Aneurin Bevan. All he needs now is the facelift to be completed, and we will have our future Leader at the ready, all set for a Conservative landslide by the year 2012. Vote JR!