Tuesday, August 14, 2012

House Points: Keeping up with the cojones

This column appeared in Liberal Democrat News on 21 May 2004. I don't get all the references any more, but at least I wrote it with a certain biro brio.

Keeping up with the cojones

Tony Blair likes people to think he is a pretty mean hombre. Hat pulled down, eyes screwed up against the desert sun. Think Charles Bronson in the opening scene of Once Upon a Time in the West.

So he must have been delighted when George W. Bush told Alastair Campbell that “Your man has got cojones.”

Oddly, in a later interview reported in Bob Woodward’s book Plan of Attack, Bush said: “Of course, these Brits don’t know what cojones are.”

Of course we know what they are, even if we do wonder first whether C.O. Jones used to keep wicket for Glamorgan. And in any case, Bush probably thinks the trouble with the Spanish is that they have no word for cojones.

This macho Blair wants to be seen as standing shoulder to shoulder with the President. Trouble is, more and more people are finding that a less dignified position comes to mind when thinking about their relationship.

So we have to find another way of picturing them. One possibility is to see Blair as Bush’s resourceful boy assistant. Every superhero needs one: Batman had his Robin; Sexton Blake his Tinker. And when Hollywood got twitchy because Tarzan and Jane were not married, Johnny Weissmuller found himself, on moral grounds, sharing the jungle with a pretty little boy in a loincloth.

But George W. Bush is no Tarzan. He is no superhero at all, unless it is Can’t Manage Whole Sentences Man. That would make Blair The Incoherent Kid. We had better think again.

The Beano suggests a more promising approach. “Young Tony Blair was the envy of all his chums, for he had his very own pet chimpanzee called Dubya.”

Think of all the scrapes they would get into together. Reporting asylum seekers to the authorities. Attending one of Charles Clarke’s summer homework camps. Invading Iraq. (“Crikey, Dubya! We’ve gone too far this time.”)

At this point in the comic the vicar and village bobby would step in to set things to rights. (“And no more monkey business from you, young Tony!”)

In the real world, unfortunately, it is unlikely that anyone will be laughing in the last frame of this story.

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