My friend, psychiatrist Sir Arthur Whatnot, had taken rather too much Madeira last night, and was being indiscreet. (You may remember Arthur. I showed you his anxious letter to Jeremy Corbyn last month.)
‘My dear boy,’ he said, ‘they all have SRD you know.’ I frowned. ‘Seasonal Reality Disorder. The politicians.’
Who in particular? I poured him another glass.
‘I had to put Rees Mogg, Duncan Smith, Pritti Patel and Kate Hoey into aversion therapy with a colleague, don’t you know. They keep upsetting the House of Commons canteen staff by kicking up a fuss about the sprouts they serve with the turkey. You can guess why.’
‘I see Redwood and Fox twice a week each. Similar cases: both convinced that Santa will bring them a package of American trade deals at midnight on Christmas Eve as long as they keep their eyes tight closed. From Macy’s or Sears they must imagine. It’s a bit like a Melanesian cargo cult. Best not tell them St Nicolas was a Turk or they’ll choke to death on their plum puds.
‘David Davis sometimes turns up for his session on the wrong day, and sometimes doesn’t come at all. He’s no idea when Christmas is. Keeps telling me he doesn’t hold with any sort of forecasting, and just because Christmas was 25 December last year, it doesn’t follow it will be the same this time round. If they got the banking crisis wrong, he reckons, they could do the same with Christmas.’
‘Boris Johnson thinks he is Father Christmas – and you know as well as I do that he has Michael Gove down as one of his elves. As for Farage, he’s not delusional at all. Thanks to his European Parliament income and impending pension, for him it’s Christmas every day. “Wot a larf,” he says.’
What about Mrs May?
‘We had a chat. Strung as tight as a wire, just hanging on till Christmas Eve, when everything will be smooth and orderly. For a vicar’s daughter, she shows serious denial of the story of the Nativity: mum and dad with no place to stay, before you know it they’re refugees on the run, and children are being slaughtered left, right and centre by a despot. “Ring any bells? Theresa,” I said. She seemed puzzled, and mumbled something about Christmas not being derailed.’
‘My neighbour? Very conflicted. Jeremy wants Christmas – and Jeremy doesn’t want Christmas. He’s worried about what the voters think about it in St Helen’s, Bishop Auckland and everywhere else north of Islington. However, if broad opinion is to baste the turkey and pop the prosecco from Lidl as usual, I expect he’ll be round my place first thing Boxing Day with my usual pot of strawberry jam.’
At that, Sir Arthur nodded off. I thought it best to let him sleep. He’s going to have his work cut out once the cabinet have discussed our ‘end state’.