Notes From the Margins…

Let them eat Tim Tams

  • June 19, 2020
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Good afternoon folks.  I know this pandemic thingie has been an unprecedented challenge for all of us, but I think we can all agree that my government has handled it remarkably well.  The figures speak for themselves.  Only 42,288 dead – 64,000 excess deaths if you believe the Office of National Statistics, though I do think we should take these statistics with a pinch of salt, because mors vincit omnia, and I don’t think it’s useful to apportion blame to a government, when it’s so much easier to apportion it to someone else.

I am, of course, joking.  And every death is, ah, a tragedy.  But I certainly don’t think we should be rushing to precocious iudicia or misleading comparisons with other countries, which is, why we stopped publishing comparison charts last month.  To those who say that we have the third highest death toll in the world, I would remind them that only a week ago we were number two, and it’s highly probable that the er, powers that be may yet give the rota fortunae another twirl over the coming weeks, because sic gloria transit mundi,  and I do think we should wait until the final score comes in before we decide who goes into the finals.

Having said that, I believe that it’s right to acknowledge that we’ve given Señor Covid-19 a jolly good biff on the chin and he won’t be wearing that sombrero for a while! And I’d like to thank those responsible.

First of all our fantastic NHS!    We clapped for them, and my ministers and I made sure that you saw us clap for them.  They saved my life and many others, and lost many nurses, doctors and staff lost their own lives, in part because they lacked the protective equipment that successive  Labour governments should have provided.  I personally want to thank the fantastic foreign nurses who wrestled the mugger to the ground with me,  who will be still be paying their immigration NHS surcharge even though I promised that they wouldn’t have to.

And let’s not forget the student nurses who were persuaded to cut their training short and take up six month contracts to work on the pandemic, which have now been rescinded three months early!  They too deserve our gratitude and appreciation.

I’d also like to thank our worldclass British scientists who – thanks to my government’s funding – have come up with a super new drug to help take some of the wind out of Mr Coronavirus’s sails.  I this demonstrates the kind of country we’re going to be once we have the winds of Brexit behind us!

I’d like to thank Dominic Cummings for his frankness and honesty these last few weeks, which fully justifies the faith my government has shown in him. I’d like to thank the footballer Daniel Rathbone for helping to publicise the government’s policy on free school meals.  And our fantastic health minister Matt Hancock and the fabulous Dido Harding, for promising  a test and trace app in June, which they then cancelled and replaced with the app that they had already refused, and which may be ready in September, or not.

As Matt said, he comes from Newmarket, and they always bet on two horses for every race there, which I, think we can all agree is the, ah, most sensible course of action, given the unprecedented situation in which we find ourselves.

This is why Gavin Williamson developed a worldbeating plan to reopen schools while also making sure that he had no  plan at all.  I think my good friend and counterpart Jacinda Aderne would agree that this the correct way to proceed, and would approve of our, um, efforts, on your behalf.

Of course mistakes will have been made in an unprecedented emergency of this kind, but I can assure you that we did not make any, and would not acknowledge them even if we had.

Nevertheless I understand that all this has all been a bit difficult for some of you.  It’s not ideal to know that your parents and grandparents died in their thousands because Covid-19 patients were released into care homes and you weren’t even able to visit them or say goodbye to them.

That’s why I’ve appointed Nadine Dorries to be the UK’s first ever minister for bereavement.  So if you want a little chat about bereavement, grief and loss, just drop Nadine an email and she’ll be there to lend a sympathetic ear or make a world-beating cuppa!

I’m also aware that there are an awful lot of riled-up black folk wandering round the country pulling down statues and trying to erase our history right now, and I would caution against this.  I would remind folk that we have just appointed an official who doesn’t believe in institutional racism to head a new inequalities commission,  and that there really ought to be the end of it as far as most decent people are concerned.

So now I think, on my birthday, that it’s time to leave all this negativity and acrimony behind us.  Because too much death, illness, and protest can sap a nation’s ability to go forward, and forward is really where I think we should be headed.  Plus ultra! Of course I’m talking about Brexit, because I, erm, really do think we should be cracking on with that, and ah, instead of engaging ceaseless mortuum flagellas about the last few months, give these negotiations a crack of the whip!

I know some of our supporters are restless.  Some have expressed dissatisfaction with the new blue passports, which have, curiously, turned out to be black.  I don’t believe we should, er, be judging Global Britain by its cover.

You will have heard naysayers from the Land of Eternal Remain suggest that a pandemic is not the ideal context to engage in negotiations with Mr Barnier, and that that we should be asking for an extension to the transition.   To that I say, pshaw!

Yes there was a 20 percent fall in GDP in April.  Yes the government now owes more than 100 percent of national economic output for the first time in fifty years.  Yes hundreds of thousands of jobs have been lost and many of them will be permanent.  Of course food prices may go up and supply chains may break down.  Of course there may be a second wave of the pandemic and the NHS has still to recover.

All this is possible.  But like our fantastic Health Secretary, we all come from Newmarket now, and we believe that Global Britain is the horse to bet on.

And I truly believe that if we can put a tiger in our tank and pick up a pinta we will stay on top – all the way to the sunlit uplands.  We are ready – fervently ready! –  to get some fantastic oven-ready deals with our friends in Australia and New Zealand.    We said we would get Brexit done and we would be lax in our obligations if we allowed  let Señor Covid-19 stop us from getting a great deal.  Or no deal.

So let’s end the lockdown and get back to normal.  Let’s put away the hairshirts and show some oomph!  Let’s get on with the job and become an independent sovereign nation at last.

And if all falls apart, if, to paraphrase Tacitus, we should make a wasteland and call it Brexit, then we will still have vegimite and Tim Tams.  And by the time my next birthday comes around, many of you will have forgotten all the promises I ever made or broke.

But for this birthday, I say, like Jesus, Noli mi tangere – do not touch me.  Because you gave me an 80 seat majority.  And I’m ready to give the wrecking ball another swing with all the oomph it requires, and there is nothing anybody can do about it.


Exit.  Accompanied by soundtrack to Benny Hill.

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1 Comment

  1. Mike

    21st Jun 2020 - 6:39 pm

    Very tragic, Matt. I hope you’re surviving the Tory madness.
    You might find a recent book by Mark O’Connell’s is of interest. Check:
    and take care!

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About Me

I’m a writer, campaigner and journalist.  My latest book is The Savage Frontier: The Pyrenees in History and the Imagination (New Press/Hurst, 2018).  The Infernal Machine is where I write on politics, history, cinema and other things that interest me.

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