Yes, actually. I do trust a man in a hat like that.
A trait I imagine I share with many people is an almost pathological inability to remember people’s names while at the same time being unable to forget a face once seen. So it was when I saw a televised appearance by Sir Keir Starmer, KCB, PC, QC.
In passing, every time I see the appellation ‘QC’, I am reminded of a Morecambe and Wise sketch which, like so much comedy I grew up with in the 1970s, would not only be unwriteable and unperformable now, but could possibly lead to jail time. Eric and Ern are discussing a rather well-heeled gentleman they have met.
Ern: Who is he?
Eric: He’s a QC.
Ern: A QC? What does that mean?
Eric: Queer as a coot. He can’t help it.
But I digress.
Starmer was one party in an interview conducted by Jon Snow – and we’ll read more about this little man later – which also included Jacob Rees-Mogg, who is winning a sort of online plebiscite as the future leader of the Tory party. We will look at the interview in a short while. It yields much in the way of semiotics concerning politics and the media in the UK. But I could not take my eyes off Starmer. Unable to resist, I Googled the fellow, and all became as clear as an unmuddied lake.
We were at school together. Starmer is almost exactly 18 months younger than me. I would undoubtedly have seen him in the playground, and he would have been aware of me, as I was a colourful character in my halcyon days. I would never have bullied him, my job at school being the time-honoured one of making the bullies laugh. The foremost bully in my year is now, or at least was ten years ago, a high-ranking officer on the police force in Bristol. It amuses me to recall how, on our trips on the old school bus to play rugby in London, he would point out of the window and invite us all, we happy few, to play ‘count the Paki’. Happy days. Where were we?
School. Yes. The institution in question was Reigate Grammar School, couched in the leafy glades of Surrey’s stockbroker belt. Sir Keir neglected to mention his attendance at a grammar school in Who’s Who?, undoubtedly an oversight on his part. But, like your humble writer, he passed the 11-plus examination, as it was called, and gained entry to RGS. I scored, incidentally, 99% on both papers, giving me an average of, um, well, it got me in. Never mind about averages and so on. I would love to know what Sir Keir attained, although I am not pulling intellectual rank. Our lives, after all, have been somewhat divergent. Sir Keir is a noted human rights lawyer and prominent member of the Labour Party and, while I do have a doctorate, I also quite frankly play guitar for a meager living in various modest Costa Rican restaurants.
Sir Keir, incidentally, is not the only notable name to be somewhat shy of his Reigatian past. The popular musical artiste Fatboy Slim attended the same school as Sir Keir and I. Thinking about it, I think the two could have been in the same year, one or maybe two below mine. Mr. Slim was also, prior to his enormous success welding together old songs in the manner of a cut ‘n’ shut car salesman hybridising two dodgy motors, a somewhat different cove than his public persona would indicate. He claims to be called ‘Norman Cook’, and I once caught him talking in a sort of flat-cap, whippet-owning Northern accent which would have surprised his family. His real name is Quentin Cook. I kissed his sister Lois once. She was tall and willowy and a first-rate kisser who looked as though she had strayed from between the pages of a Virginia Woolf novel. Again, I am wandering from the path. And look where that got Dante.
My reason for bringing you here today was actually to speak of Rees-Mogg. After Trump, Britain is in dire need of a politician who represents a glitch in the hitherto flawless programming of the globalist, progressivist, Pansy Left. (© George Orwell).
Trump and Rees-Mogg could scarcely be more different. I apologise to my non-British readership, but comparing the two would be like comparing Arthur Mullard with Kenneth Williams. Trump is like a 1970s British wrestler in a suit, Rees-Mogg like Bertie Wooster with Jeeves’s brain.
I will not indulge in ‘post-Wikipedia’ deceit about Rees-Mogg. I was dimly aware of him, and have since researched him. Now you can too. As Rebecca Bynum, my sometime editor at the New English Review, drily remarked to me when I asked her if I needed to explain who the Miliband brothers were for the benefit of a largely north American audience, that is what Google is for.
What I will focus on is an interview, a few months old now, held by Jon Snow against the imposing – and probably green-screened – backdrop of Westminster, the supposed mother of all parliaments. The interview can be found here, and you may wish to view it first, before proceeding to my pithy and almost certainly accurate observations on same. I will wait here. *Hums a popular tune*. Ah. So there you are.
Well. The semiotics of which I spoke are apparent from the off. Snow – a genuinely odious man who epitomises the BBC – treats Starmer much as a well-off passenger on a 1930s cruise liner would treat a charming young lady, leaning on the rail and chatting easily like some extra-louche David Niven, and even kicking off with a witless jibe about the 1922 Committee. Of course, when it comes to Rees-Mogg, Snow folds his arms like a Yarmouth fishwife in a gale, and proceeds to be fucking rude. Fucking rude. The situation is exacerbated when Mogg points out the meaning of the word ‘shambles’, which Snow has used to describe the government of Theresa May. This is televisual gold, and endeared me to Rees-Moog immensely. Watch, if you will, from 4:09. You will find ample reward if, as I do, you despise the pompous Leftist charlatans at the BBC.
A United Kingdom whose House of Commons, on a Wednesday afternoon, hosted Jacob Rees-Mogg as Prime Minister, holding question time, and faced off by Ann-Marie Waters as leader of her Maj’s opposition is an England to which I would return. I suspect this to be as likely as my being handed the captaincy of the English cricket team, or being invited to play bass for The Who in place of the late, great John Entwistle. But I was wrong about Trump and I was wrong about Brexit. Let us hope my run of form continues.