WHAT goes on behind the Black Door? Sounds like the title of an Algernon Blackwood story. But, no, the Black Door under advisement is that at Number 10 Downing Street, a portal mentioned frequently during proceedings in yonder London Parliament.

Though, as the goings on were couched in tones of horror and doom (see particularly Blackford, I. below), perhaps they might have made a fine Blackwood yarn right enough.

The Sue Gray report into parties at Number Ten has been published, and Boris Johnson, a Prime Minister, was forced to address the findings in a Commons statement. The scene was already set at Prime Minister’s Questions, when Labour opposition leader Keir Starmer accused the PM of changing his mind about a windfall tax.

“What was it about the Sue Gray report,” asked Sir Keir, “that first attracted him to the u-turn this week?” Bit of deflection, d’you see? Boris is a master of it.

And of lewd allusions. As last week, he accused Labour of having a libidinous attitude to taxation: “They get off on it. They absolutely love to confiscate other people’s assets.” Ooh, matron!

But Boris was also ready to give voters a right good seeing to: “We are going to put our arms round the people of this country” – see them fleeing even now – “just as we did during the pandemic.” That’s right. Then many of them died.

Tory backbencher Graham Stuart added ominously: “When the Prime Minister gets passionate, things get done.” Yes, that’s what we’d heard.

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford peed on the PM’s passion when, in the doom-laden tones of a Presbyterian minister, he censoriously lamented wine bottles littering offices, people sitting on each other’s laps, and the PM “grabbing a glass for himself”.

Thundered Ian: “While people stayed at home to protect the NHS, the Prime Minister was indulging in drinking and debauchery.” Aye, debauchery! Steady on, old man.

Boris advised Ian to shut up and wait for his statement, which began shortly afterwards with the PM trying to put things in perspective, by averring that, over a period of 600 days, bad things had only taken place on eight and, even then, in only a few square feet of a 5,300 square metre estate spread across five floors.

Hundreds of staff worked at Number Ten, and thousands in the Cabinet Office, and even now he was trying to get rid of the buggers who, admittedly, had worked exceedingly long hours. Except on Fridays.

He said it was one of the duties of a leader to thank any departing official for their service, to say a few words and down a small vat of wine.

However, thanks to Ms Gray, he knew now that some of these orgies had gone on too long, though he hadn’t known that as he wasn’t all there. He was as “surprised and disappointed” as the next ratepayer to learn about them and, when he’d told the House that rules and guidance had been followed, it was because “I believed it to be true.” Apart from the bits about rules, guidance and followed.

“I am humbled and I have learned my lesson,” he wept, holding an onion to his eye. Now, he hoped, it was time to “move on”. Yep, nothing to see here.

Sir Keir banged on about the aforementioned black door, saying it symbolised British democracy rather than just being – ken? – a means of getting in and oot. What went on behind it was important, but we’d had folk drinking excessively and cleaners “forced to mop up red wine the next day”. Scandal. White wine leaves much less mess.

To hoots and hullabaloo, he said it was “ridiculous” to compare his own takeaway at work to such bacchanalian revelry, and vowed to stand down if the fuzz thought otherwise.

At this point, Boris decided to have some fun, referring to the Labour Man as “Sir Beer Korma”, and averring that “the great gaseous zeppelin of his pomposity” had been punctured by the fact that he himself was under police investigation.

Boris moaned that it was “difficult to draw the boundary between work and socialising”. Well, basically, if you give a loud toot on a party blower before vomiting over the boss’s head, that’s work. Socialising is when you get together and chew the fat in the House of Commons.

Accordingly, we look forward to more fun-packed socialising in a fortnight, after they get back from their whitsuntide revelries.

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