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Blog Number 27 [Friday 29th May] 

“The thing about Johnson is that he desperately wanted to become prime minister, and he desperately wanted to have been prime minister. It’s just the bit in between he struggles with.” (Marina Hyde, The Guardian, 26th May)

“It seems that many people have been making simple category errors with Boris. They have assumed that Dominic Cummings’s understudy has an intelligence and morality to compromise…Yet the evidence all points to something more disturbing. That beyond an ability to recite the odd Latin phrase, Boris is actually quite dim. Worse still he is totally amoral. So the very idea of him doing the right thing is a complete non-starter.” (John Crace, The Guardian, 28th May)

Just when you thought things could not get worse for our beleaguered PM, they do. Have you seen the man? Bags under his tiny dark recessed eyes, hair now so totally dishevelled he looks like the Scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz, and that terrible haunted look that pleads ‘get me out of here, Nanny, please.’ Remember Theresa May? You know, she was Prime Minster in the olden times. How she began all cheerful and relaxed and ended up looking haggard, bone weary and exhausted as she was lambasted time and again by the opposition, that is, the loony Brexiters in her own party. That took 3 years. For Bojo it’s taken a mere 6 months. Now the inmates are in charge of the asylum and there’s no Jack Nicholson to take them for a ride. In fact, the only people being taken for a ride are us, the people, and we are not buying it any more. “I mean,” says a man in a vox pop, “people won’t bother now. If Cummings can do what he wants, why can’t we? It’s one law for them and another for us.” In the opinion polls Bojo has crashed like speeding meteor. He’s in negative figures. I think back to those who looked to him to get the country back on its feet after May’s disastrous reign. “Get Boris in,” said one woman chirpily. “He’ll sort it out.” No, he won’t. He doesn’t do reality. Like Trump he lives in a bubble of his own creation, where running the country is like being on Have I Got News For You. A few quips and jokes and then on to the next show. The trouble is there is no escape from running the country. And then stuff happens, or as Harold Macmillan put it when asked what he found most difficult about being PM, “Events, dear boy. Events.” Oh dear, in a pandemic, events come thick and fast and unlike some, well, one person, poor Bojo can’t get into his car with his wife and child and drive to the safety of his own private bluebell wood. Bleary-eyed after another terrible night’s sleep, he wakes up only to find he’s still PM and no amount of clicking his red shoes will take him back to those halcyon days when he could fabricate entertaining stories for the Telegraph. Now he has to fabricate for real and he’s just not good enough. Desperate times call for desperate measures. No, he says to Laura K, at the Three-Podium Address, you can’t ask political questions of scientists. They are not politicians after all. They don’t know how to duck and dive, to answer a different question from the one asked. They will tell the truth for God’s sake. It’s a scientific question, comes back Laura, but no one hears her as he’s put her on mute. If only he could do that to the whole country, he thinks, put them on mute. That way he could attend properly to the Dom’s voice in his earpiece and maybe even understand what he’s saying, at least some of the time.

I have heard a rumour that people who have been reading my blogs think M has all the best lines. Okay, it’s not a rumour. People have told me. To my face. On zoom anyway. As, with the exception of a brief encounter with a masked daughter brandishing a 2 metre long stick and shouting “No closer,” I haven’t faced anyone in real life apart from M for weeks. I ask her whether she thinks she has the best lines.

‘What lines? You never write what I actually say.’

‘I try to make it more interesting.’ [I’m aware that this could be misinterpreted.]

‘So, I never say anything interesting. Is that it? [See]

‘That’s not what I meant. I’m a writer. I embroider. I make things funny.’ 

“I never say anything funny. Is that what you mean.’ [This is not going well].

‘No! I mean humour is not your forte…’ [The hole is getting deeper].

‘And what is my forte as you put it.’ [Oh God!]

In desperation I clutch at the tiniest straw. ‘Putting up with me?’

‘You got it, Mr Witty Writer. That’s your forte and your fifty and your sixty.’

‘That’s quite funny, actually.’

‘So put it in the blog. At least I have actually said it.’

And so I have.

Antidote 25

This is for Colin, the Professor of Rock. It’s a young Richard Penniman on Granada TV back in the day [1964], with support from, amongst others, the oh so lovely Shirelles.


  1. You will need to urgently find another title for your blog as – with the breakdown of lockdown – no longer can Solitude be the mot juste. Please keep up with the official advice, John, which is now basically Liberty Hall and follow your baser instincts. Perhaps the blog should be re-titled ‘Woman’s Voice’ as this one starts with the words of Marina Hyde and end with those of Mary Mazillier (the real ‘M’). Your readers want to hear more from ‘M’ (and no, John, good journalists are not supposed to “embroider” – that’s Dominic Cumming’s job).

  2. Thank you, Paddy, for your support [I think]. Like everything else I write, the title is not strictly in accord with the facts but embroidered or as Mr Cummings would have it, interpreted. So I will stick with it if you don’t mind and even if you do.

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