Less Gladly


Travelling long journeys – whether first class, second or business – you do need a bit of luck. It’s not every time that you get to sit next to someone with the beauty of Grace Kelly or the wit of Oscar Wilde.

I recall travelling from London to Singapore and being seated next to a Frenchman who had just got off a flight from Paris. In mitigation, he had run for miles through tunnels and terminals to catch our flight in time. The whiff of body odour emanating from this man was so repellent one of the Singapore Airlines stewardesses gave me a complimentary bottle of Paco Rabanne which, at every available opportunity, I discreetly sprayed on my finger. When this man was not looking I applied my finger to the rims of my suffering nostrils. An awfully long flight.

I remember being accosted in the nineties – within minutes of another journey starting – by a Kenyan Indian fellow on a tourist bus from Delhi to Agra. With mad eyes he declared, “Mandir has six letters, so do church and masjid. Bible, Quran and Geeta have five letters. 6 minus 5 is 1. So God is one.” My Walkman batteries had run out – one of the most excruciating journeys of my life. The one and only time I have seriously weighed up the positives and negatives of engaging in a murder.

As one ages, one is supposed to mellow. I find that as the years go by one suffers fools less gladly. The small talk on calls matters less. You realise that many meetings you get invited to are mere plate spinning and just not worth the journey. You don’t think that being rude is such a bad thing – as long as you’re not over impolite.

Some YouTube teacher was talking nonsense the other day about how in English, a double negative forms a positive. But in some languages, such as Russian, a double negative is still a negative. However, in no language in the world can a double positive form a negative.

“Yeah, right.”

A man in the queue to the supermarket was complaining to the rest of us that only he was wearing a mask. “You are so selfish,” he said. “Studies show that masks prevent the spread of coronavirus. How will you feel if I die from Coronavirus?”

“Ambivalent”. (A riposte that went down well with all but the ranter, who toddled off to Sainsbury’s instead).

A recent graduate with a “revolutionary” idea to consolidate a whole bunch of conservative publications under one brand was ranting about “great oak trees from little acorns growing”.

“Is that your default line down the nudist beach?”

That saw him on his jolly way.

And so it is that the long journey for Labour in its search for power is not one that frontbencher Lloyd Russell-Moyle will survive. Like a hedgehog stunned after getting hit by a milk float he is just too easy to put down. He does not have luck on his side – nor Starmer, his boss, a magic perfume to make less repellent his band of sorry lieutenants. Just this weekend this bearded twit was busy apologising to Harry Potter author JK Rowling after accusing her of using her own sexual assault as “justification” for discriminating against trans people.

Dearie me. Talk about walking into a lamppost.

Russell-Moyle is too much of a fool. Beyond saving. He once claimed the Conservatives have “conspired to murder” the British public. He told his team of Labour activists that his constituency was “not Tory-free enough for my liking. We’ve still got a few more to root out, but because of your fantastic door-knocking, we know where they live.”

Rowling said in response to Russell-Moyle’s latest faux pas: “I accept [Lloyd Russell-Moyle’s] apology in the hope that he’ll dig a little deeper than hashtags and slogans.”

Fair enough. But what should JK have said? What did she really want to say?

“You’re so inbred you might as well be a sandwich.”

“It’s been a pleasure to accept this apology from the poster child for the pro-choice movement.”

Or, in the words of Author Kurt Vonnegut Jr., from his novel Timequake, “If your brains were dynamite, there wouldn’t be enough to blow your hat off.”

I have a wager on Lloyd Russell-Moyle losing his frontbench position by Christmas. One on Lammy losing his job by March 2021. I have to say the odds aren’t great. Nevertheless, thank you, Mr Starmer, for giving these caricatures frontbench roles and proving the depth of talent at Labour’s disposal is as shallow as piss on a plate.

Dominic Wightman is the Editor of Country Squire Magazine.