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Iain Maciver: How much longer can we patiently wait?

Protesters placed a skeleton 'enjoying' cheese, wine and a birthday cake outside Downing Street, while 'waiting' for Sue Gray's report (Photo: Vuk Valcic/SOPA Images/Shutterstock)
Protesters placed a skeleton 'enjoying' cheese, wine and a birthday cake outside Downing Street, while 'waiting' for Sue Gray's report (Photo: Vuk Valcic/SOPA Images/Shutterstock)

It’s the waiting patiently that gets me. There has been so much to wait patiently for recently.

Why can’t things happen more quickly and get themselves over with?

Firstly, there was the wait for the much-forecasted Storm Malik. That had no sooner shaken this house and ripped the side off the shed round the corner than we were told to wait a bit for Storm Corrie roaring in behind it.

There are many reasons why I wait impatiently. So often after you have waited as directed, the outcome has been very disappointing. One example that comes to mind for me was during a cold winter when I was very young, someone gave me a pair of ice skates. How earnestly I prayed for the mercury to drop.

One very icy and snowy morning, my father and I were given a lift in my uncle’s van to the post office in Breaclete, the neighbouring village to our domain in Tobson. My skates were in the back, just in case.

As the Austin A35 slowly chugged through the white stuff and past the church, what a sight lay before us. The whole of Loch Geal was frozen over. I pleaded with the old man to let me out to go ice skating. I shall always remember his words: “Nah, Iain Beag. You’ll catch a cold. You’ll have to wait until the weather gets warmer.” What?

After picking up the postal orders for dad’s football pools entry, the postage stamps and the stamps for the TV licence, uncle Donald’s van crawled back past the loch with my face pressed against the back window, howling.

Checking in with the Met

Now, what else have I been waiting for? Can’t think. What? Sue? Who is suing who? Oh, that Sue.

At the weekend, another journo suggested I ask the Metropolitan Police on what legal basis they were asking Sue Gray to leave out details of their enquiries. A retired Supreme Court judge called Lord Sumption had declared on Newsnight there was no legal reason.

Why me? OK, why not me? My readers deserve to know, too. Ach, the Met probably won’t even bother to reply to the teuchter in Nowheresville.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s actions during lockdown have been investigated by civil servant, Sue Gray (right)

Heck, they did. Smartly sidestepping the question about the legal basis, they explained that asking Sue Gray to downplay the stuff the Met were probing was only about protecting the “integrity (or not prejudicing, hindering, etc) the police investigation. This is not about prejudicing criminal proceedings.” Hmm. they may have meant “about not prejudicing”, but that’s only my opinion.

Then Sue Gray’s mini-update came out on Monday and the PM faced PMQs PDQ. OMG

When I shot back at them about when had they ever done anything similar before, they claimed you’d rarely see a public body looking to publish a report into alleged offences during a police investigation. Really? About a matter that threatens mere fixed penalties? Pull the other one.

I didn’t actually ask them to pull anything because they then said it would be only until they wrapped up their enquiries, adding “which we intend to do promptly”.

How many eggs are in Boris’s basket?

Then Sue Gray’s mini-update came out on Monday and the PM faced PMQs PDQ. OMG. Who else stayed glued to the telly watching Boris being ambushed, not by cake but by rivals and colleagues? Even Mrs X was glued to it when she wasn’t attending to my needs. She, too, likes to wait – on me, hand and foot. Well, I like to dream. Still waiting for the requested pails of popcorn, quarts of coffee and Scotch eggs.

I wonder how many eggs Jacob Rees-Mogg has left? The olde worlde posh gent has claimed he has politics and politicians sussed. He explained: “I’ve never put all my eggs in one basket, and I’ve always been cautious.” How’s that going, JRM? haven’t you put your political career – let’s call it all your eggs – in Boris’s basket?

Jacob Rees-Mogg reclining in the House of Commons

Finally, I must say hello to Alex who has also been waiting patiently. Until recently, he was a keen piper. Alex then had an audition to try and get into his local pipe band. He had been waiting to hear if he had got in.

A letter arrived. Sorry, it said, but no. Aw, poor Alex. Gutted, he tells me that, on Monday last week, he put a “bagpipes for sale” sign in the window of his house, which faces the street in a certain Highland town.

On Tuesday, his next door neighbour, who’s a bit of a prankster, didn’t wait. He put up a sign in his own window. It said: “Thank God for that”.

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