THERE was a tradition on the newspaper where I used to work, a nice tradition. Anyone leaving was presented with a mock-up front page of the paper, filled with a jokey story about the departing person. I was amused and touched by mine, and include a rather amateur snap of it here.
One of the jokes on my page was a strap across the bottom of the page inviting readers to turn to inside for “Julian’s David Cameron tribute column”. Ah, how well my friends and colleagues knew me.
There was no such column, of course, but the wit was clear. And in that spirit, Man On Ledge would like to provide a few words about the prime minister.
Don’t you just hate it when you address a room full of people and they all misunderstand what you say? There you are talking the most perfect sense, only you later discover that everyone in the room has got hold of the wrong end of the stick. There is only one stick, you are holding it and you jolly well know which end you are grasping.
This is what happened to David Cameron after he reportedly told a posse of national news reporters at the G7 conference in Germany that he intended to impose collective ministerial responsibility during the EU referendum.
Not surprisingly, all the national newspapers went big on this and ran do-as-you-are-told stories, only for head master Cameron to then summon the offending reporters to his study, as it were, to receive a prime ministerial bollocking. He had been misinterpreted, he said, and blamed the reporters for misunderstanding him.
In the TV news footage, Mr Cameron went a little pink, while the reporters shuffled around looking cross and exchanging glances.
So either it was a giant conspiracy by all the reporters from all the newspapers, each with their own agendas, or the head master had said something he later came to regret.
I don’t know about you, but whenever I hear David Cameron speak I try not to feel annoyed, which is a distraction, but instead concentrate on attempting to gauge whether or not the prime minister actually believes a word he is saying. Even when he passionately expresses himself about something or other, it is hard to tell whether the heat is real or confected.
Sometimes there does seem to be something wrong with the man’s temperature control, which can lead to him turning a funny colour.
David Cameron has just successfully won an election, so none of this will bother him immediately. But the way he apparently said one thing on Europe, then swore he hadn’t reminds us that Europe remains a political quagmire for the Tories.
But of course if all those irresponsible journalists with their digital recorders and their pesky shorthand, that’s if any still possess that skill, simply misreported what Cameron said – if they are indeed wilful mis-reporters – then there is nothing to worry about at all.