MY wife is speaking to me from behind the newspaper. She has clearly misunderstood the role demarcations of this family. It’s my job to annoy people by reading out fragments of newspaper articles.
This special service offers edited highlights of the best bits so that the listener doesn’t have to bother reading the story for herself. Or it spoils any future reading by doing the same.
I haven’t spent 30 years muttering through inky sheets to then have this service provided back to me. Whatever next? I’ll be spending untold hours in the garden before you know it. And my wife will be lying on the sofa and pretending to read the newspaper while having a nap.
She’s reading a long article about Emmanuel Macron, the youthful French president. Macron set up his own party, calling it En Marche! And, yes, that exclamation mark is there by design. With my part-time lecturer head on, I am always telling students to pluck all the exclamation marks out of their work. And then Macron goes and gets elected astride an exclamation mark.
Anyway, my wife has just read out that when Macron launched his party, it was a while before people started to notice that it was christened with his own initials. He’d created a party in his own image.
As a man who shares the same initials as the Labour leader, this set me thinking. What if our party leaders followed suit? This is quite a tricky game because Jeremy Corbyn is too modest – or possibly too weighted with false modesty – to do anything so egocentric. But still. The Jerusalem Collective Party. The Just Caring party – “The party opposite is past caring!”
The Juicy Carrot Party – fresh from the allotment; the Jam Collaboration Party – fresh from the same. Or, in acknowledgement of his fans, the Oh Jeremy Corbyn Party – or OJP for short.
Theresa May has a surname ready-made for this game: The That’s Mayhem Party. Or Total Mayhem for short. Or the Take Me (Away From Here) Party, in acknowledgement of just how miserable she appears to be in the job, up to her knees in unending Brexit shit.
The Thatcher Minor Party; the Trembling Madhouse Party; or, in keeping with the French theme of this divertissement, That’s Merde!
The English translation of which is: Same Old Right-Wing Shit Bugger Me Have You Seen the State of the NHS Party.
My wife interrupts these thoughts by reading out another passage. She tells me that when Macron was elected, the stunned former president Nicolas Sarkozy “is said to have commented with disconcerting humility: ‘It’s me, but better’.”
Well, I shall have to go and read that now. Probably. You know how some people don’t like reading books that have been read by someone else, well I’m a bit like that with newspapers.
I like to have first dibs at the newspaper. I’m not sure why. Is it to claim ownership of what I have read? Not sure, and the funny thing is I quite like reading an old book, and thinking of other eyes absorbing those words first.