Struan Metcalfe, MP for Aberdeenshire North and Surrounding Nether Regions
In my final year at Gordonstoun, myself and three other chaps – Fatty Blenkinsop, GoodGenes Jenkins and Lanky Lancaster – signed up for the Duke of Edinburgh for a lark. It involved an overnight hike across Highland terrain, and we were joined by a couple of ne’er-do-wells from the local comp who no doubt desperately needed the award to get into their preferred choice of uni.
I had the measure of these two pretty swiftly. I forget their names, but let me tell you, they did nothing but pretend to be helpful and supportive throughout the expedition – sharing their Kendall Mint Cake and flasks of homemade hot chocolate with us, pointing out when Fatty was reading the map upside down, even giving me a dry pair of socks, as mine had got wet traversing a bog somewhere near Loch Morlich and my fag hadn’t packed any spares. We didn’t have a phrase for it then but nowadays one would recognise their behaviour as “virtue signalling”.
It was as if, instead of shouting “Tally ho!” and heading off into the wilds with a bag of Jelly Babies, a stout pair of brogues and an unshakeable self-belief, they had fully prepared for the trip, thought of everything in advance, and budgeted and accounted for exactly what they needed.
The events of this week have taken me right back to that adventure on the Scottish moors and my engagement with those two interlopers.
Firstly, self-proclaimed King of the North and Thunderbird lookalike Andy Burnham has caused a major stooshie, having had the temerity to have done his homework and assessing exactly what Greater Manchester needs from the government in a Tier 3 lockdown, and then asking for precisely that. I mean, the bally brass neck of it!
Everyone knows that this government doesn’t pander to that kind of posturing. The “correct” way to calculate a financial support package for three million people is to stick one’s finger in the air, check if they’ve got a Labour mayor and then knock 10% off whatever you’ve been asked for. Even if that’s only enough to provide each Mancunian with a Twix and a carton of Um Bongo once a day for a fortnight.
And if that weren’t bad enough there’s a footballer – a footballer, mind you – who seems hell-bent on giving free school meals to hungry children. Well, my colleagues in Westminster put paid to that this week by voting down the motion. If he thinks he can shame the Conservative Party into doing the right thing by struggling families he can think again! Of course, the leftie press are having a field day, calling Boris mean-spirited or, worse, Dickensian. I take great umbrage at that. Our glorious prime minister looks nothing like David Dickinson. No, if he resembles any TV antique dealer, it’s obviously Bagpuss.
Davinia Smythe-Barrett, ordinary mum
I’m getting pretty sick of the non-stop complaining from some sections of society about the coronavirus restrictions.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m as angry as the next person about the infringements to our liberties, but all this talk about people being unable to continue their social lives is just a load of old defeatist claptrap. I’m managing just fine, as are many of my fellow ordinary mums.
Take our Yummy Mummys’ Antifa group (we’re anti-oppression, pro-Prosecco!). Being unable to meet as usual at the Marcliffe, we’ve had to improvise. Thankfully, the latest lockdown coincided with the completion of Lucinda’s outdoor hot tub gazebo. So now, when Wednesday lunchtime comes around, we just pack our bikinis and our blinis and highlight the atrocities of authoritarianism surrounded by bubbles! So come on, people, where’s that “can-do” spirit?!
When it’s time to head home, most of the girls can rely on their husbands for a lift. Sadly, with Milo still stuck in Belize in both tax and Covid exile, I have to rely on Snezanha, our au pair (she’s Bulgarian, but she’s marvellous). We are lucky to have her. She had intended flying home to see her family, but the two-week quarantine would have meant she’d have exceeded her contractual leave and we’d have been forced to dismiss her. So, in order to keep her in a job, she has to stay here.
Shelley Shingles, showbiz correspondent and Miss Fetteresso 1983
O.M. actual. G. It’s not been a good year for showbiz, has it?
So thank goodness Sir Paul McCartney’s got a new LP out this December, full of stuff he’s been “messing around” with while on lockdown. Apparently some of the songs have “echoes of the pandemic” in them, which is a shame. Sir Paul is a national treasure, we don’t want to hear him coughing and wheezing in the backing vocals.
But that’s the kind of brave stuff you get from Sir Paul. I last saw him in that “One World” online concert earlier this year – you remember, the one where Elton John did a brilliant impression of Vic Reeve’s pub singer – totes hilaire! – and the Rolling Stones did a song by split screen so we could see into all their houses. It turns out Ronnie Wood doesn’t just look exactly like my Mum, he’s got the same taste in curtains as well!
Of course, me and Paul go way back, ever since Mum took me to see Wings at the Capital in 1975. After the gig, Mum took me to the stage door and we were lucky enough to get up close and personal with Paul as he came out. I asked him what his favourite Beatles track was and I’ll never forget his reply – “Get Back!”
Wise words from a fab gent.
Watch the latest performances by The Flying Pigs on their YouTube channel.