My friend Dave Cameron has been catching a bit of flak over that ‘selfie’ photograph of himself and President Obama flanking Denmark’s blonde PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt. It was she who took the shot.
By itself this would be unobjectionable, but the fact that the trio were thus amusing themselves in the middle of the memorial service for Nelson Mandela has drawn some criticism. According to the critics, the picture-taking episode fell somewhere between lèse–majesté and sacrilege, so Dave felt he had to respond.
Speaking ex cathedra in Parliament, he parried the slings and arrows with a witty remark, alluding to the fact that Helle is Neil Kinnock’s daughter-in-law: “Of course, when a member of the Kinnock family asks for a photograph, I thought it was only polite to say ‘yes’.”
Laughter all around, ‘hear, hear’ on both sides of the aisle, not a dry seat in the room.
But speaking to me in private over the bottle of his favourite Krug Grande Cuvée he always has at breakfast, Dave was more forthcoming. It’s with some trepidation that I’m posting his remarks here, but I know I can count on your discretion.
“So bloody what? It’s not as if I snogged that tart during Tutu’s eulogy or anything like that.
“Well, don’t get me excited, Steve bloody Kinnock is a lucky bastard – Helle is one sexy gel.
“Steve is jolly careless too. She lives in Copenhagen, he in Davos, that’s 800 miles. So fine, he doesn’t pay Danish taxes, good for him.
“But it may cost him in the end anyway, with the wolves circling, if you know what I mean. I wouldn’t have a moment’s peace if Sam was out on her own all the time, and as to Helle…
“That prat Barack, for example, fancies her something rotten, and in fact when we all snuggled together he managed to cop a feel, which is why Helle’s gob is wide-open in the picture.
“Michelle was none too pleased either, you know how unworldly those middleclass gels can get. Sam isn’t like that at all, she doesn’t mind, but then she isn’t middleclass. And anyway, fair’s fair, if you know what I mean.
“Afterwards Michelle told that prat Barack to conduct himself in a seemly, decorous manner befitting his exalted stature as the Leader of the Free World. ‘Stay away from that honky bitch,’ was how she put it, verbatim.
“I too had a bit of fun at Barrack’s expense. ‘Read David Copafeel lately, old boy?’ I asked, in jest of course. He didn’t get it and took exception to the word ‘boy’. Barack can be dreadfully touchy at times, what?
“So what on earth did I do wrong? I wasn’t the one who squeezed Helle’s whatsit, and it was Helle who put her hand on my cheek, not the other way around. I couldn’t have knocked it off without looking like a prat, could I now?
“Auspicious occasion? Commemorating a great man? Give me a break.
“It went on for four bloody hours, so what was I supposed to do, stand to attention the whole bloody time, like a bearskin outside Buck House? At least I didn’t chew gum like that prat Barack.
“And between you, me and the lamppost, how great a statesman was Mandela anyway? So fine, he didn’t murder too many people after he came out of the pokey. Big deal.
“I’ve never murdered anyone at all, so how come no one calls me a great bloody statesman?
“Tell you what, my record is a hell of a lot better than Mandela’s. He was in charge what, between ’94 and ’99? Well, the average income in South bloody Africa fell by 40 percent during those years.
“Had I done the same I’d be flogging crisps on Channel 4 and talking to the blue-rinse brigade on the din-dins circuit, like Tony, not sitting in Number 10. Under my government, actually mine and Clegger’s whose fault it all is, it’s only been down a few percent and everyone’s still screaming bloody murder.
“And look at South bloody Africa now. Unemployment – 40 percent. A third of those in work are on less than $2 a day. And Jo’burg looks like Hitler’s bunker after an Allied raid.
“Rape capital of the world, murder capital of the world. It’s open season on white farmers, and those who haven’t been killed yet are fleeing like rats.
“There’s half as many farmers now than before Mandela, and that’s a great statesman? So what does it make me, Winston bloody Churchill? Peri bloody cles? Abe bloody Lincoln?
“So fine, I did go to the bloody service, would have looked like a right prat if I hadn’t. I’m a P bloody M, so I do what needs doing.
“If what needs doing is to say that a commie terrorist is a great statesman, a bloody saint and Jesus Christ himself, fine, count me in.
“But don’t expect me to impersonate Lot’s bloody wife for four hours. I’d much rather feel up Steve’s wife, which I didn’t.
“Another soupçon of bubbly, old boy?”
I accepted some more of that nectar gratefully, patted my friend Dave on the shoulder – and woke up.