The moving finger writes…
Tempus fugit. Most of us prefer to think of our last breath as a far off event measurable in say the unit of time it takes to discover, refine, test, approve and market a major new pharmaceutical. But those that believe this tend to be constantly patrolling the perimeter of sanity. Time runs only in one direction, as the current Speaker of Britain’s Palace of Westminster is only too aware. He is the unfortunately named J. Bercow, whom many consider to represent at least three riders of the apocalypse: complacency, incompetence and sloth. Bercow is heavily into sport. Social climbing. Some consider him to be a mediocrity with halitosis and a council house mentality.
It is Bercow who is at the centre of the Dwarfgate scandal, following a joke made by the British Prime Minister David (call me ‘Dave’) Cameron. The nation’s dwarfs are up in arms, transfixed with fury. Cameron’s joke was made with reference to a comment made in The House by MP Simon Burns who called Mr. Speaker “a sanctimonious dwarf”. Burns then did what every politician does when using language not drawn from the sanitised official head office press handouts, and apologised.
My mole in Downing Street tells me that Cameron meanwhile told the following story at a private dinner party at Number 10. “Burns backed his car by mistake into Bercow’s in the underground car park at the Palace of Westminster. Bercow stepped out of his car, glared at Burns and said ‘I’m not happy’. To which Burns replied, ‘Well then, which one are you?’”
On the subject of which one are you, I’m reminded of my other half. No, not my wife, but my “true self”. What if your true self turns out to be a complete prat? I once encountered my true self and it was not a pretty sight. I was walking up the stairs in our house in Caracas as I was coming down. ‘Hi,’ I said. ‘Hi,’ I said, ‘I’m your true self’. ‘Yes, and you look like a complete prat.’ ‘That’s me,’ I replied ‘and I can be a really nasty piece of work’. Fortunately, I was carrying a blanket back from the beach, so I immediately threw it over my alter ego’s head and wrestled him to the ground. I then dragged him into the maid’s room and locked the door from the outside. For quite some time he pounded on the door yelling ‘let me out, let me out’. But I didn’t want to see my real self again. Nor do I want my chums to see my real self. The Masks are fine. I muddle along saying things like: ‘Paul I’m so pleased for you opening up a third studio in L.A.’ or, to one of our sons: ‘Gosh what a fabulous bonus of 70 quadzillions from the bank,’ or to a friend: ‘Wow, that’s what I call the best advance for a novel I’ve ever heard of’.
And when I’m in the queue at the supermarket there’s this doddery old woman fumbling for coins in her purse or using a credit card to pay for a carton of milk (why?) and my other self is in the maid’s room yelling ‘Let me out and I’ll stab her to death. Let me do it.’ But I smile charmingly and nod like one of those hideous dogs one sees on the ledge of the back of naff drivers’ cars. You know, the same ones that have foam dice hanging from the rear view mirror.
This maid I mentioned was Mexican and her speciality was making a true Mexican breakfast of re-fried black beans, hot chilli, onions and rice, topped with a fried egg and avocado mash. Quite a breakfast. The first time I was brave enough to eat a few spoonfuls, she had been particularly heavy handed with the chilli. After not even an hour, I felt the chilli and black beans in my stomach clamouring for the open air. Later, when I felt secure enough to leave the sanctuary of our home, I said good morning to Juan the porter (an escapee from a hostel for distressed bearded folk) and wished him good morning. “Thank you Sir,” he replied, “but I knew it would be a great day”. “Ah yes?” I replied. “Yes Sir. Had me a monstrous movement this morning. Nothing like that to set you up.”
I smiled weakly as there was nothing I could possibly say in response. But I suspect that our maid had given him a substantial sample of our breakfast before we arrived at the table.