Strong and Stable. The Sequel
I wrote recently how Theresa May had shamelessly commandeered her intimate love words with her husband as her election motif: ‘Let’s see, are you strong and stable? Mmm, oh yes.’ And how at crucial moments in bed she had addressed her husband carrying out his boy job as ‘Mr Erdoğan’. (Read The Origin of ‘strong and stable’. The alternative facts here.)
Now my friend Julian (not his real name) was worried for me. ‘Why not change the name to Andergan or something like that,’ he said. ‘What will we do if unfriendly people come calling for you or you suddenly go missing?’
We laughed about it. I left the name as it was.
The knock on the door when it came was not the Turks but the Americans. They were chummy at first, the two men, happy to take tea and Welsh cakes, the latter a revelation to them. It became clear, however, that they were seriously anxious to know my sources.
In vain I protested that I had invented the story, made it up, that it was pretend. But no, who really had told me that Mrs May’s use of ‘strong and stable’ derived from her admiration for the Turkish president? Was it Snowden, Chelsea Manning, Assange, Obama? Had Sean Spicer let something slip? Mr Trump wanted to know.
Trump? Why in heavens name …?
In their desperation they became candid. Mr Trump had heard of the story, not from Fox News, but someone had read it to him, and he was upset. How they kept it off Twitter they wouldn’t say, but Trump was stomping around the Oval Office saying that he was the strong and stablest president there had ever been in the history of the world, and what was all this about Erdoğan? Hadn’t he, Trump, held Mrs May’s hand, and through that touch passed on his strong and stable qualities to her? (One touch, he figured, was all it took. The Pope had better watch out.) But she goes and says it’s Erdoğan.
I had presumed my two visitors were CIA, but they now let slip they were FBI, and that the target of their investigation was Gen. Michael Flynn. How, they wanted to know, had Flynn with his secret brief to promote Turkish interests, gotten to Theresa May? Gotten to her to the extent that, praising Mr May in bed for his being so strong and stable, at the crucial moments it was Erdoğan she imagined she was making love to, not Donald J Trump?
There was another rat a tat tat. My two interrogators slipped into the kitchen as I answered the door. It was the Russians. They were dressed in hiking gear, and made a song and dance about passing through the village on their pilgrimage to Compostela, but the butt of a Lebedev peeking out of one of their rucksacks was a giveaway, and I told them so.
OK, the long and the short was, why had Mr Putin not been Theresa May’s model for strong and stable? Had Michael Flynn double-crossed them? They had known he was working for Turkey as well for Russia, but they thought Turkey was just commercial stuff, not political. Mr Putin, with his bare-chested horse riding, would be very happy to kill all English foxes for Mrs May. He was very upset with me for writing this false propaganda, but lucky for me he was more upset with Gen. Flynn.
I have some experience of mediation and conflict resolution, so at this point I said, ‘Look boys, there are some people I’d like you to meet. How about a cup of tea and a Welsh cake?’
They were suspicious. ‘What is this Welsh cake?’ The way they said it, with the emphasis on cake, they sounded like old Soviet spies from central casting.
But I took them into the kitchen anyway.
After a few awkward moments, the Yanks and Ruskies found their shared interest, and tucked into the Flynn business with gusto.
By the time MI5 turned up with a French secret service operative (the village snitch having phoned in the goings-on in the kitchen) the boys had moved on from tea, finished my whisky and had nearly got through five litres of vin de table from the butcher next door. So we repaired to the Café des Promenades, the various coppers and spooks arguing who was going to put this on expenses, and we missed the Turks. Finding nobody in they put a note through the door from Mr Erdoğan thanking me for giving him such a good write-up, but would I please not go on about it as he was having a tough time with his wife. She had taken to murmuring to him in bed – in English - how he was internationally known for being strong and stable, and how about it, big boy?