The other Mr Normal was sat in the Under Gallery in dark glasses, russet jacket, handkerchief square in his top pocket. Could swear I’d seen him before. Some sort of singer? A Black and White Minstrel from the 1970s? Yes, but louder, he’s one of those very, very loud ones, spectral make up and Devil worship sort of thing. Was he the one who bites bats’ heads off? No, no, he’s the other one. Demons, yes – bats no. He was someone called Gene Simmons, apparently, from a singing group with one of those stagflation, Heath-era names. Easy to miss him, when he’s got his tongue in his mouth (it’s over a foot long; it can snatch small animals off the pavement). He looked like a pleasant old fellow I’d like to look like that when I’m as old as him.
At the despatch boxes, Deputy Rayner was chiding Deputy Dowden for his claim to being Mr Normal. The session was a little flat – we could have done with the Mr Normals switching places. To the question, “Why has the Government abandoned plans to create a register of missing children?” The other Mr Normal could have responded, “The hon Lady has been around, but she’s young and clean, and when I saw her coming out of school, I knew, I knew I simply got to have her. And why do I say that? Because love is like a muscle you gotta flex. That’s why the country will never trust Labour again!”
Rayner asked whether ordinary working people would appreciate hundreds of thousands of pounds being spent on “loophole lawyers” to get ministers acquitted of their many missteps and misspeakings during Covid. Mr Normal’s refreshing response would have gone: “What the hon. Lady simply fails to understand that I really love what she’s got. We could really get hot. No more tomorrow, time is today. I can make the hon. Lady feel, yes, feel okay. Unlike the country under a Labour government, because we could never afford it!” And then reached across the table with his mace-long tongue and chucked her under the chin.
Mr Simmonds is enormously rich, has slept with 5,000 women, claims to have no values or integrity – if he runs for leader of the Conservative Party, should a vacancy arise, I’m sure he will give Oliver Dowden a run for his money.
The DPM has made a very favourable impression on his party: the backbenches were cheering his blameless sallies and repartee in a slightly ostentatious way, as if to say they liked him more than they liked the PM. They do seem to warm to him, as parents do, seeing a little fat boy doing better than expected in the 60-yard dash. Looking like a lunk has the great advantage of managing expectations downwards, and Oliver’s delivery is so laborious that when he ends on a halfway decent quip – nothing memorable enough to remember from today – he brings his house down.
There was a TV ad for Clarke’s shoes all those years ago. A precocious girl with tremendous enunciation talked about her sibling’s prospects in life. “Jimmy is going to be a doctor. And Johnny is going to be a lawyer. And me,” here she put her hands behind her back and beamed into the lens, “Mummy says I’M going to be a PROPER little madam.” I often wondered what happened to that little girl. She grew up, transed, joined the Conservative Party and peaked as the deputy prime minister.
Still – call me old-fashioned – probably better her than a kabuki-faced, demon-summoning, groupie-gathering rock god.