I am a newshound who has lost my sense of smell. I am a lifelong socialist who would vote Monster Raving Loony Party sooner than Labour. I am a fatalist who predicts a fate worse than Darth Vadar. I can no longer read my beloved newspaper, watch or doze contentedly to the World Service radio.
The unthinkable is happening. A cocktail of social media and disgruntled populism has thrust the thrice-married, sexist, racist, overwrought, over-combed Donald Trump into the Presidency of the Land of the Free and the thrice-married, terrorist-sympathising, absolver of anti-Semites, 500-time voter against his own party, refusenik of anthem and servicemen tributes, newly tailored, utterly unproven, useless Parliamentarian — but oh-so-useful hustler on the hustings — Jeremy Corbyn will become our next Prime Minister.
Without a viable policy in his head or even a full cabinet, he has promised free tuition, free lunches and pots of gold for the NHS and the arts along with home-baked bread and circuses. You thought Fiona and Tim were manipulators? Glance behind Jeremy and register the truly sinister duo of Seumas (Sheum mishtake sheurly) Milne and John MarxDonald and watch Jezza’s lips move. Glastonbury was his Tamworth Manifesto. Grenfell his photo opportunity. Manchester and London Bridge his chance to remind us that terrorists have a cause.
R.I.P. Lord Sutch — you finally got your deposit back. Students and activists, xenophobic Brexiteers, beleaguered union bosses and benefit cheats, you will finally have what you so deeply desire . . . a Monstrous Raving Loony party.
And step forward in the dock please the Fourth Estate. Because three months ago, Theresa was heroine chic. She was, in the pages of the periodicals, smart, solemn and a safe pair of hands . . . with legs! A groovily dressed vicar’s daughter, in Fab Fashionista shoes who was a charming cross between Margaret Thatcher, Mary Berry and Joanna Lumley. A National Pleasure. She would smooth us through Brexit with tea and empathy and was so far ahead in the polls that Corbyn’s socialists would surely be singing the red flag for decades behind their carefully tended allotments in Penge. Winning a landslide election was a fait accompli.
The only trouble was that there was nothing in this scenario to sell papers. It was a pushover. Mrs. May was fourteen points ahead in the polls. After five years in the Home Office she was respected by her own party as he was despised by most members of his. She had nobly stepped into the gap left by Cameron’s shameful desertion. He was hanging on to his job by a tooth.
There was no X Factor Final. Dash it all — it was impossible to write leaders about these leaders.
The turnabout was sudden. Mrs May went from credible to Cruella in the click of a digital processor. She was wrong to avoid a TV debate, wrong to use the words safe and stable, to campaign in the wrong areas, to have circles, beneath her eyes, she was cold and unfeeling, she didn’t kiss enough babies, she wore sad fashionista shoes and she didn’t have a Brexit plan or a personality . . .
Jeremy, on the other hand, the left one, the sinistra — was a shoo-in for a front page. Whatever his shortcomings, in the council chamber he was a natural campaigner. It was what he did best. Campaign buses energised him. He toured the country, taut, tie-less, tireless and televisual. It was, after all, what he’d been doing for thirty years. Suddenly the beard and Jesus sandals were hip. And the youngsters and the hipsters loved it.
So, perhaps the storyline for the most popular — sorry, populist — soap opera ever is being drafted by Mark Thomas, Jeremy Hardy and, for all I know, Dave Spart in an Islington bar even as we speak:
Boris, at the empty crease for a pre-lunch innings, is caught Silly mid on.
Tories batted out by teatime.
In the White House pavilion sits the reclusive Melania Trump.
Laura Alvarez (who?) Corbyn, sneaks out of terraced Finsbury Park haven to provide the cream teas and Jeremy’s Jam scones.
May retires from game declaring “It’s not cricket.”
The country goes to the country.
Corbyn is narrowly elected; seeks a deal with Sinn Fein to support him at Westminster.
Demise of all newspapers save the Mirror and the Morning Star goes unreported.
Diane Abbott appointed Treasurer.
Seumas Milne and John MarxDonald handle Brexit and the British Economy.
Trident and HS2 scrapped to pay tuition fees.
Britain achieves Third World status.
Newly Independent Scotland joins the EU.
Russia annexes the Isle of Wight and the Channel Islands.
China purchases the BBC.
Social media says both stories are fake news.
Jeremy, John, Seumas and the New Apparatchiks announce, on Snapchat, a street party the length of the land.
The Queen and the royal family downsize and move to Balmoral.
So no more Andrew Marr of a Sunday for me or Andrew Neil of a Thursday or Question Time or Eddie Mair of a weekend. I will read Moby Dick and learn Italian. I will get a hobby, volunteer, do an art foundation course, book some tango lessons — anything to distract myself. I will buy some tasty lycra leggings and get out there in celebrity sneakers and do pilates in the park. I will plant perennials and smell the jasmine.
To bury my head in the quicksand is of course, to ignore every lesson of history but to speak out will make me the target of trolls and text threats. I am quite scared to even submit this article.
Abbot turn and tighten your Corbyn, we’re in for a bumpy ride.
“No worse there is none”, wrote Gerard Manley Hopkins, “pitched past pitch of grief,/ more pangs will, schooled at fore-pangs, wilder wring./Comforter, where, where, is your comforting?”