NO ONE could say for sure when the thing started to eat itself, although the signs had been there for all to see.
The thing had been born at the shallow end of a pernicious pool. It was popular with a majority for a while but hated by others. Perhaps the thing suffered from what a famous politician once called inexactitude and less wordy sorts refer to as lying. It certainly had a taste for bitter juice squeezed from liar lemons.
The thing with the thing is, nobody knows what it is meant to be. Oh, sure – plenty of people, quite a few of them editors, sold us the thing: it was going to be a marvellous thing, so much better than the present unpatriotic arrangement; a glorious thing, a thing of unparalleled wonder that would lead us to sunny uplands, a place visited in a dream one of the editors had after he’d been on the red wine.
But then the arguments grew louder and more tortuous, about what sort of thing it was, whether hard or soft to the touch, and people began to wonder who had sold them this thing in the first place.
In opinion surveys, 70% of those who had backed the thing now said they didn’t think it was going at all well. “We no longer like the look of this thing,” they muttered. “The people in charge don’t have a clue what it is meant to be. Mostly they are scrapping among themselves while trying to keep their own jobs.”
And now the thing was eating itself. After nearly two years of eating everything in sight with an insatiable appetite, chomping headlines like there was no tomorrow, and perhaps there won’t be, now it was eating itself.
Some said the thing was a giant snake that had long ago shed its skin, the skin that looked like a flag. Now the skin was dark and gnarly and poisonous to the touch.
Others said the giant snake didn’t have a mouth but instead had two anuses and it could talk out of at the same time; but then sensible observers said: “Oh, that’s just Boris being Boris.”
Whatever the thing was, the friends we have fallen out with, the ones over the water, they just shrugged. “They got themselves this thing so why should we help them with it?” they said.
Our old friends didn’t understand the thing. They were bored with the thing and who could blame them. It was the worst, mostly pointless thing many of us could remember.
And somewhere in a posh shed there sat a man who unleashed the thing. The man who gave us the thing hummed a happy tune to himself. “Perhaps the thing won’t be so bad after all,” he told himself, fortified by lemonade made from those liar lemons. He seemed to have forgotten that he had let the thing out of the cage while attempting to protect himself and his party. The thing had swallowed him the very next morning, then spat him out. And now it was chewing itself for breakfast.
The man in the posh shed shrugged and carried on humming. For he knew he did not make mistakes.