23rd June 2016: An Undisclosed Greek Island Hideaway....
Negrita and I rise early and decide to take a walk around the Harbour. It's a stunning morning; cloudless, azure. Gentle wafts of warmth ripple above and around us as a swirl of heat-haze wraps itself around the base of the far off boobs of Ithica. Dogfighting swallows swit and swoop down over the road ahead of us and a brilliant diamante lightshow flickers playfully over the calm blue-green waters. From somewhere deep within the shade of a sun-bleached holiday apartment an English drone rises above the chorus of cicadas: "....mmmm, I see David Cameron's resigned dear..."
Hey-ho. Another day in paradise.
As Negrita pauses to re-do the laces of her steel toecapped DMs, I feel a gentle stirring in my pocket and the muffled accompaniment of the theme from Emmerdale. Who's ringing at this ungodly time of the day? I wonder. Eventually I manage to fish the wriggling mobile out from inside a heavily velcroed patch pocket and look at the screen of the vibrating rectangle. It's SamCam:
"Hello, is that you Boris?"
"Sorry love, scroll down a line or two in your address book for the former London Mayor. You've got through to me, Bob..."
"Oh Bob, I'm like so sorry to ring so early, it's just such a blimmin' terrible mess that my stupid, fat-faced hubby's gone and got us all into. If I told him like once he was a fool not to confront his stupid blimmin' party instead of making himself a hostage to fortune with that stupid refer-ruddy-rendum, I told him a flippin' hundred times....Argggghh!!! Men! (Soz! Not you obvs.) Anyway, so soz to witter on. Enough of me and my petty domestics, how's like everything with you? BTW, did I ever tell you that I suggested they use 'Tangled up in blue' for his lordship's walk on music at the last party conference? Too long, appar. Not to mention too depressing. But yeah. Oh and Dave and the kids just *l-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-v-e* the Christmas Album. Was it hard to do? You know, you like being Jewish and all that?...."
"....erm, Bob *Swipe*...
"Oh darling Bob! How *are* you?? So soz! Honestly, I'm like all ruddy over the shop this a.m. as you can probably tell. Don't know whether I'm coming or going - well, *you* know what I mean. So, how's Negrita?"
"Still incredibly erm...*gothic*..."
"Serious? LOL. Yeah, but like *w-o-w* what a lucky accident. Actually, you might be just the very man - sorry, *person* - to help out at this time of our like greatest national need and everything...well, since 2008 anyway...mmm. What say ye The Great Robert Swipe? Will you mount the silver charger and be the knight who rides to rescue the nation in its time of peril???"
"Why, what's happened? We don't play Iceland til Monday night....it's not....no.....NO! They *didn't*.....????? *O-h*....*M-y-y-y-y-y-y*....*G-o-d*.....please, tell me it isn't true...Camantha....please.....?"
"Soz Bob....the votes have been counted and the UK has chosen to leave the European Union...."
"Phew, thank Christ for that! For one horrible moment I thought you were going to say they'd voted out the one on Love Island who swings both ways....Is she still in there? And has she 'hooked up' with another lassie yet? Answer the second question first..."
"No, it's true Bobsters. We're leaving the EU, Dave's resigned and we need *you* to come back and lift the nation's spirits with your edgy, politically incorrect, gender non-specific satirical glamorousness.....-ness....."
"Listen Camantha, I'm very flattered and everything, but for one thing...I'm *retired* and for another thing....I'M ON BLADDY HOLIDAY!!!!"
"Oh no, Bobsters - we *n-e-e-e-e-d you!! P-l-e-e-e-e-e-a-s-e!! It's like the old hubby is always saying - at times like this we need all our beloved national instituions to put aside all their many differences and come together for the sake of the party. *Country*, I meant country. *C-o-m-e* *o-n*.....*p-u-r-l-e-e-e-e-e-a-s-e*! Who else could swan into a room looking like a baggy-eyed Librarian on Prozac after a marathon scrabble orgy, wearing a ridiculously patterened pair of kitten heels, a poorly-conditioned grey bob and an ill-fitting tartan man-suit and still give off the impression of being an imperious fashion icon always at least two steps ahead of the general zeitgeist with his/her finger firmly on the pulse of the nation's movers and shakers? Besides, you're like the only national treasure left alive who isn't on the sex offenders register..."
"...Lummy....I hadn't thought of it like that. I suppose you're right - Bowie, Prince, Wogan, Daniels, DLT, Savile and Cliff...."
"....and just for the record, the thirty three crates of junior-sized bottles of Vimto and all the boiled sweets genuinely *were* for a charity wheelchair marathon I was organising....you do know that..."
".....Oh alright then.....I'M IN!!!! (....erm....you know what I mean)..."
* * *
5th July 2016: Sky Studios, Osterley, Middlesex...
"...and that facking useless tosser Crabbs? Facking great that's going to sound around the facking negotiating table: "We've got Merkel, Hollande, Junker ....how about you?" "Erm, we've got Crabbs." Ezackly - and another thing. May? May? MAY????? I wish she *facking* would. I'm sorry, no disrespect or anyfing, but even your bladdy Negrita does a better impersonation of a woman than that. Lord, give me strength. I mean come on, Leopardskin patterened kitten heel never did a fackin' parsnip butter, non? And as for Gove...Gove?? Gove??? GOVE????? CUNT! more like. I'll give him fackin' experts....Ere, Mikey! Whaddaya fink of experts narer you speccy little nerdicunt? Come in fackin' handy helping you to extricate your fackin head from yer shitting fackin A-R-S-E...after I've fackin' *RAMMED* it up there, wouldn't they!! You divvy little SHITRAG....."
It had seemed such a good idea at the time. Get a few Tory grandees and informed members of the commentariat together over a hot toddy or two to discuss the runners and riders on a prime time cable television news show... Unfortunately, and like many people, I'd never seen Sir John Major as pissed as a fart on Oranjeboom and 12 year old Irish whiskey depth chargers. Lord preserve us. And Norman Tebbit hasn't even started yet.
Everything was so straightforward in the run up to the referendum campaign, wasn't it? Well, it was for me at any rate. I hadn't given it a single thought aside from wondering whether to do a three way accumulator on us voting to stay in, Scott and Cady being kicked out of Love Island and Bournemouth winning the Premier League. That aside, little had perturbed the old Swipe noodle beyond whether or not to ask Negrita to revert to using the daywear nail extensions whilst observing the traditional fin de jour after-sun rubbing ritual and how many slices of lime with which to jack up the first calming, post-swim 'buie breezer of the day. Greece being Greece, a day by the pool wouldn't be fit for the name without the occasional heated debate about the politics of the moment. Nicholas, our kindly white-haired, olive-skinned concierge would gaily appraise me of the national mood as he and his fellow countrymen grappled with the rigours of Troika-imposed austerity.
"You know who I like?" he says on the night of the referendum vote, glaring at me as if he wants to rip my bladder out, inflate it with his own breathe, tie it to the end of a long stick and fire several thousand rounds of machine gun ammunition at it in front of a baying crowd of equally angry Greeks. "Terrorists!! I like, yes! See my house....mmm??? (pointing to the next building down the hillside from our villa)... there...*three* *guns*....yes! (a trident of angry Greek fingers waved under my nose for emphasis)...YES!!! Politicians, mmm? (Nicholas mimes taking his part in the summary execution of the line of politicians arranged in front of him in his mind's eye, presumably using one of the three guns he keeps in the house.) I'd only asked him about the football.
"Mmm? Is good?" he asks, pointing at the beautiful sugary pink wedges of water melon he's very kindly brought for us on a paper plate to eat by the swimming pool. But Nicholas has a point. His pension was EU2,400 per month before the last Greek election. He voted against austerity and the troika and got the government he wanted. His pension is now EU1,200 per month. Negrita and I wave from the taxi that will take us through thunder, rain and lightning, all the way down the length of the island to the airport. Nicholas and his wife stand by the gates to the villa, waving back, mouthing the same two words over and over: "Thank you..."