THE Yoke Mates of Destruction is a great name for a band. Probably something heavy metal, with songs like A Grape for Tantalus, Anaconda Dreams, and Technicolor Yawn. However, the Y M’s of D in this instance were Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, at least as characterised by Boris Johnson, guv’nor of England and the Other Bits.

The Prime Minister was speaking during the Scottish leg (legless by the sound of it; whisky was involved) of a campaign tour and, say what you like (you’ll be lucky these days), while some may doubt he’s a man of his word, none can deny he’s a man of his words.

Words are weird. They can baffle and disorientate. In a newspaper yesterday, I felt dizzy on reading a strapline about someone being “hot favourite to lift the glitterball”. What could it all mean? It turned out to be a reference to Strictly, which is not, as I’d thought, a TV series about punishment but a show concerning dancing which, come to think of it, is pretty much the same thing.

Though it helps to be quick on your feet, politics is essentially a war of words, and that’s handy for Boris, as he has a way with them. He and I share a trade, if little else, and in a Daily Telegraph column this week he bunged out metaphors willy and, arguably, nilly.

Brexit had seen the country trapped “like some super-green supercar blocked in the traffic”. It was “stuck in a rut”. Worse still, like Tantalus in Haddows, “we can see the opportunities in front of us – the luscious grapes, the refreshing stream – and yet every time we reach out to grasp them we find they are whisked away …”

Grapes? Stream? Luscious? What can it all mean? Well, for those of you unfamiliar with classical myth or Wikipedia, Bernard O’Flaherty Tantalus was an ancient Greek geezer who was sent to Haddows (is it Haddows? Just check Wikipedia. Oh hell, it’s Hades) for cutting up one of his bairns, boiling up the bits and serving these to the gods.

In Haddows, subsequently, he had to stand in a stream or pool, starving while grapes were kept just out of his grasp. There’s a similar story in Scottish mythology involving chips.

But politics isn’t all Greek to Boris. He’s also read up on the 20th century, from which he found a terrible example that reminded him of Mr Corbyn’s Labour: “[They] point their fingers at individuals with a relish and a vindictiveness not seen since Stalin persecuted the kulaks.”

Stalin? Kulaks? Fingers? You’ll have to look up Wikipedia yourself if you’re unfamiliar with Stalin. Suffice to say, he could be quite stroppy at times. As indeed can our Mr J., who also seems to have a problem with peasants.

At the Tories’ campaign launch in Birmingham, Boris described the political process as clogged “like an anaconda that has swallowed a tapir”, and he continued the pabulum theme, saying he could “chew my own tie in frustration”, despite the fact that his “oven-ready” Brexit deal had been good to go. Critics pointed out that “oven-ready” means “half-baked”.

Food, at least when I cook it, usually leads to vomit and, likewise, our prolix PM derided the aforementioned Corbyn and Sturgeon again, with their “Technicolor yawn of a coalition”. He also poked fun at Brexit Party leader Nigel Farridge, comparing him to a “candle seller at the dawn of the electric lightbulb”.

All good knockabout stuff. But not everybody is impressed. At a seminar on “comedy, censorship and free speech”, Manchester Metropolitan University lecturer Sarah Llott said Johnson used humour to make people “less free and encourage structural violence”. I see.

I wonder if he was aware of that. At least no one could accuse Mr Corbyn of using humour to oppress the masses and, in the interest of balance, I must quote his bons mots when he wrote to erstwhile deputy Labour leader Tom Watson: “I hope the horseradish plants I gave you thrive.”

Marvellous. With more quips about edible vegetation of a pungent nature, Labour could

still be in with a chance at this election.

++++ FUR she’s a jolly good fellow. Yep, Her Majesty, a Queen, is to stop buying duds made with real fur.

It’s not clear what’s behind the decision since, beyond dogs and horses, aristocrats tend to hate animals and believe they should all be killed. However, it’s thought she’s just acknowledging that times have changed.

The usual suspects in the “we kill them for their own good” brigade ain’t happy, but even they can’t stop the Royal Family’s shift to the left, with the monarch expected to announce soon that she’s gone vegan.

But, without fur, how’s she supposed to look posh? In her headsquare and raincoat, she “looks like she could be at a bus stop in Carlisle”, according to the creator of Netflix show The Crown.

Adding that she’d something about her that was “quite ordinary”, Peter Morgan meant the remarks as compliments, though it’s not clear if that’s how they went doon in Buck Hoose.

“Ordinary” has connotations of “common” or “average”, and is normally used to describe The People during elections. The Queen, in common with other royals, may be shifting to the left. But she’s some way to go before she counts as one of The People.


ONCE, many years ago, in the line of duty, I had to attend a UKIP press conference featuring a horse-whisperer and a posh bloke – the candidate – wearing the usual jumbo cords and tweed jacket straight from central casting.

The horse-whispering was a side-issue, though I made it the main one in my subsequent report. Politics can be gey grey and, while I’ve extolled the virtues of dullness before, it’s excitement that I deplore not colour.

Accordingly, it was with some sadness that I read of Brexit Party candidate Jill Hughes standing down after allegedly damaging revelations that she believed she came from the star Sirius and that the Government was secretly working with aliens from ooter space.

In a novel, she explained that some extra-terrestrials were “less than apple pie wholesome or positive pumpkins”, and her bio reveals that her old horse Red had been reincarnated “as a palomino called Hooray Henry”. I see.

As someone who believes politics would benefit from more comedy, I would certainly have voted for Jill, given the chance. Politics is too serious a business and, irrespective of party, it is incumbent upon all of us to vote for the candidate with most comedy potential.


AS if Christmas weren’t awful enough, we also have to endure Hogmanay in this country. I only mention it, not to depress you, but to mark news that the BBC’s televisual excess devoted to it has a new host.

What don’t I give? Correct: a hoot. Hogmanany is the one night of the year when I’m in bed before 10 o’clock, with all the lights off. I’ll even park the car some distance off to give the impression I’m away.

Thankfully, the depressing charade of “first-footing”, in which drunks knock on your door and expect to be entertained, has largely disappeared. But Hogmanay, from the medieval French meaning “many pigs”, is still marked on the calendar, despite most Scots sharing my belief that it should be banned.

Indeed, the very word gives me the shivers. It brings back youthful memories of harsh whisky and gassy beer, of rich black cake that sat in the stomach for days, and false bonhomie from passers-by, wishing you a “Happy New Year” with only marginally less awkwardness than “Merry Christmas”, “merry” being a word normally restricted to Dickens and distinctly un-Scottish.

Awful, all of it. Anyway, cheers now. Have a great weekend, if you must.

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