Pad Life: End of Days
Little Cat and I are looking out of the Pad’s sitting room window, and contemplating the end of days.
It must be, mustn’t it? There has to be a reason. No country in any mind at all, let alone its right one, would let Boris Johnson get within a sniff of being Prime Minister. There have to be dark forces at work.
Our present political leaders, of all shades, have made of me something that no-one has managed to make of me since I was about fifteen. They have made me into a monarchist.
I’ve got nothing against the royals as people. I don’t know them, they may be wonderful human beings or they may be complete shits, I have no idea. I imagine they’re a combination of both, like the rest of us. It doesn’t matter. In principle, it’s a bloody awful idea to have a hereditary head of state. It reinforces inequality in just about every aspect of life you can think of, it makes unearned privilege a glamorous, exciting thing rather than a blot on the landscape, and it boosts the circulation of publications that make you weep for the trees that died to print them. As for the argument that the tourist trade would suffer without it – oh for heaven’s sake. Who are all those people wandering around France, Italy, Germany, the United States, pointing their mobile phones at anything and struggling with the language?
But at least Boris Johnson will not be our actual head of state. Or Gove or Raab or Hunt or Javid or Stewart or any of the rest.
I wonder if Eddie Redmayne is looking at his diary and wondering when they’re going to make Westminster: Whoops Apocalypse. I mean, Redmayne’s got to play Rory Stewart. Stick a mop head on Brian Blessed and he can do Johnson.
‘An Absolute Monarchy,’ I inform Little Cat. ‘That’s what we need now. Yes, I know it will be Charles one day but I’m even prepared to put up with that. Let’s be brutal, it won’t be for long, and then we can have William and Kate and all be will sunshine, lollipops and rainbows. If the country is going to be the plaything of a posse of the posh, it might as well be played with by people who’ve been taught some manners.’
Johnson epitomises the confusion between education and intelligence. The man has undoubtedly had the best education money could buy, he can use long words, he can write books about Winston Churchill that get appalling reviews, and he can probably tell you the Latin for Garden Bridge, but he’s stupid. What is worse, he’s spoilt, greedy, unfeeling and stupid.
I’m a bitter and twisted old lady now, so I’ve seen a number of Prime Ministers. I’ve seen clever, loathsome and ruthless (Thatcher); clever, a bit dodgy but with generally good intentions (Wilson); clever but out of touch (Heath); quite clever but not really up to it (Major); clever, initially well-intentioned, but ultimately prepared to send people to be killed so he could dine at George Bush’s table (Blair); clever up to a point, oleaginous, a sodding disgrace who walked away from the biggest mess since the Second World War (Cameron); and Theresa May. But I’ve never seen a stupid Prime Minister. Jim Callaghan got just about everything wrong that could be got wrong, but he wasn’t stupid.
Honestly, put Trump and Johnson in a room together and listen to the rattle of single brain cells.
At least with an Absolute Monarchy there’s no pretence. ‘I’m Queen, I make the rules, you’re scum and you obey them.’ As it is we have to listen to the verbal vomit that spews forth from the hypocrites offering to be our leader: ‘I am going to crush you because it is the WILL OF THE PEOPLE.’ ‘I’m going to prorogue the democratically elected Parliament because it is the WILL OF THE PEOPLE.’ And the best one: ‘Not leaving the EU on 31 October will be a DEFEAT.’ A defeat of what? By whom? The will of the people (I’m not going into whether the referendum result was really the will of the people, let’s just accept the numbers for now) was to leave the EU. The referendum didn’t specify a date. The people didn’t rise up and say ‘Trick or Treat! Ensure we leave the EU on Halloween, enemies of the people, or we’ll tie your door handles together.’ We may be fighting Them on the beaches, but They, whoever They are, can’t actually be arsed to turn up. We are just fighting Ourselves.
Little Cat gives me a bemused look. She’s not used to being the recipient of the political rant. That used to be Cat’s job. Cat would listen patiently up to a point, then argue back, or possibly just start asking for her tea in order to shut the mad woman up. But poor old Little Cat has the gig now, because, sadly, Cat is no longer with us. The lymphoma finally overcame her, and we had to say goodbye.
Cat’s actual given name was Delilah. She came to us nine years ago, at six weeks old, a turbo-charged bundle of fur who showed no fear of anything. The kids and I couldn’t agree on a name at first. Then one evening, as we watched her conquer the sitting room curtains for the umpteenth time, pulling out threads and destabilising the whole caboodle, I turned to them despairingly and said, ‘Why did I let you persuade me to have this kitten? Why? Why? Why?’ And so Delilah she was.
Tears have been shed, kind words from friends have been had. We’ll miss her so much. None more so than Little Cat, who now has to listen dutifully while the keeper of the food sachets blithers on about the state of the nation, and waits for the end of days.