SIPS, SLIPS AND SNIPPETS OF LOVE 65

Saturday 10th February

She should have seen it coming, but you never do.  Only later when you play back the film in your head, you can see the clues, almost as if the director had left them there all along.  But when it is happening you don’t manage to join up the dots, you fail to stand back and see it all from a different perspective.  You are too much in the thing to see it clearly for what it really is.

Harriet had returned, and now she was really pissed off.  The Bursar had been telephoned, by whom they never found out, but it was decided that Harriet be dispatched back to the relative safety of her home.  Maybe the rumours of her drug-taking had reached the ears of the authorities, or maybe it was just the fear of scandal, but she was almost in disgrace; bundled away from Leeds as fast as British Railways could carry her.   And now she really was a fish out of water.  They were practically housebound too, because people must be talking out there, and even Harriet’s usual brash dismissal of the rest of society seemed to have deserted her in the shock of it all. She mooched around the house, rarely out of her dressing gown, and seemed to clash with her mother at every opportunity.  It was like watching a storm brewing, the two of them almost circling each other, like prowling tigers.  Maybe her mother was angry at their father and the whole mess he had landed them in, but precisely because he was not there her anger came out in her lack of patience with Harriet.  What had been tolerated before as just Harriet’s nature, her sardonic take on everything, was now too much for my mother, and she constantly snapped back.  It was as if she had nothing to live for now, she would just shrug her shoulders and toss back her hair and face Harriet and her constant questioning. She wasn’t trying anymore, and she certainly wasn’t pretending that it would all be alright soon.  They all knew that, the worst that could happen had just happened, they were just living through the aftermath, trying to avoid the bits of debris flying about.

And Harriet was just as angry, blaming her mother for her father’s flight, though in the clear light of day, it was obvious that he had been heading for some sort of a breakdown for some time, and yes, maybe their mother’s being caught had accelerated things, maybe been the catalyst, or the excuse he needed to make to himself, in order for him to act so out of character, to embark on his sad little running away.  And to Lowestoft of all places; it might have been different if he had gone abroad, or to Scotland even, but not to Lowestoft.  Lowestoft was only a few miles away, a sleepy seaside town with none of the exotic allure of Paris or Rome.

And maybe, just as Harriet was blaming her mother for setting him off on his little escapade, she in turn was blaming Harriet for catching her and Uncle Ted.  The irrationality of her unannounced appearance in the house only two days after saying goodbye, and being safely tucked away in Leeds.  She had suddenly returned, and not making a sound really had almost crept upstairs to catch them literally in-flagrante, it must have been incredible bad luck.  But then again they had gotten away with it for years and years, and it was this fact above all others that had started to rankle with Harriet.

Almost like a cuckolded lover she seemed to want to know all about it, as if by examining every aspect of it she might begin to understand a little about her mother, or even about herself.  Maybe by pursuing her mother so relentlessly she was working out some of her own problems.  And so she picked away at it, and reluctantly my mother had to admit that it had been going on even before she met my father.  And no, she couldn’t explain why she hadn’t stopped; it wasn’t as if she didn’t love our father, that wasn’t it at all.  Maybe it was more a case that she just couldn’t let go of Ted, he was her secret lover, and as no-one had known about them, they just carried on.  And it must have been so exciting, knowing that no-one else knew, knowing that they had this thing together, this special thing; special precisely because it was their intense secret.  They had a secret space where they came alive, where they maybe lived at a totally different intensity, another world, shielded and encapsulated within their secret, and nobody had guessed; it was just their place, theirs alone.  And now her mother wasn’t even ashamed of what she had done; her father had eclipsed her little mistake by a much larger one, and her earlier mood of defensive apology was being replaced by a strangely quiescent defiance.  At last she didn’t seem to care what Harriet was saying anymore; Harriet was the least of her problems.

And this didn’t stop Harriet, if anything it made her worse and the sniping got really serious.  It was after their father had been caught, though caught is hardly the word for his silent surrender – he had been brought back, relieved of the burden of his lonely escape, which had maybe become, in itself, a sort of prison.  He had been returned, but not quite to them; he was currently in police custody.  There was a feeling on the part of the police that they could barely disguise, a mood that had been developing over the days.  What had started off as polite deference – they were after all the family of a solicitor, even if he had apparently run away from home – had rapidly coalesced into a sneering disrespect for them, the family of a felon, and a pathetic one at that.  When the mighty are fallen, the rest of us can’t help but take some open satisfaction in it, a sort of righteous self congratulation, a feeling of self justification and a joy, almost, in the trouncing of those who had quietly assumed that they were our betters.

And just when they should have come together, to help each other in this, their desperate hour of need, here they were tearing each other apart.  Jane had never seen my mother so distraught, it was as if she were really broken by what their father had done; as if despite her betrayal of Phil, Phil’s betrayal of all of them was just too much to bear.  And all Harriet could do was to taunt her, so it is really no surprise that my mother just let her have it. The last secret was thrown out at her, almost as retaliation, but maybe as the last despairing thing she could possibly say – ‘Are you happy now?  Now, please for God’s sake, leave me alone.’

Harriet had been digging and goading their mother into it, trying to get her to admit even what Harriet hadn’t quite dared to ask.  When had it started, how had she managed to get married knowing she still had feelings for Ted, had she ever stopped, even for a few months, what about when she had been pregnant with us girls – all of these half accusations-half questions being thrown around.  As if knowing would have solved anything.  And underneath it all the irrational desperation of Harriet being suddenly deprived of her new best friend (her drugs) was making her more and more reckless, more and more desperate, nastier and nastier to the shell of a person her mother had become.

In the end it was Jane’s mother who almost volunteered the information, begging her torturer to stop, hoping that by this final revelation she could put things behind her at last.

‘What exactly do you want to know Harriet? Because I can’t give you a definite answer, I simply don’t know.’  She pleaded with an exhausted look on her face.

‘Don’t know what mother?  What is it you don’t know? Tell me. Tell me now. Tell me what you are hiding from us.  Tell me the truth for once in your life.’  Harriet barked at her, though her mother had been answering her with a quite disarming honesty for the last couple of days

‘I simply don’t know Harriet, I am sure of Jane, I am sure that Jane is her father’s child, but you Harriet, I simply don’t know.’

‘What? What are you saying? Oh my God, are you trying to tell me that I might be Uncle Ted’s child, that my father isn’t who I think he is. After all this, are you now telling me that somehow it’s okay because Ted is really my father?’

‘No, it’s not alright, none of it is alright, it’s all wrong.  I am trying to tell you that I simply don’t know – that’s all. I hoped that you were your father’s child; I have always told myself that you were, I always assumed that you were, but you could have been Ted’s.  I mean I wasn’t expecting to get pregnant anyway, I wasn’t counting the days. I simply don’t know.’

Jane was stunned.  She had never considered Harriet to be anything other than entirely like her, same mould, same parents and same blood.  It had never occurred to Jane, even when she found out about Uncle Ted, that Harriet and she could possibly have different fathers.  They were so alike, so together, so as one.  How could anyone possibly imagine that they weren’t the same?  They could have been twins, in fact in a way we always had been twins, hadn’t they; just separated by a couple of years.  So what on earth was their mother suggesting?  How impossible, that Harriet could have been Uncle Ted’s child?  But it was outrageous, wasn’t it?   Jane looked over at Harriet, but she was just blank, she had no idea what she was thinking, it was bad enough what Jane was thinking.   Their mother walked out with an ‘are you satisfied now’ shrug, and slouched up to her room.  Jane couldn’t take her eyes off Harriet, she was so scared for her.  And she was uncertain of her, despite their previous closeness sometimes Harriet felt like a stranger to her.  Jane tried to calm her, to mollify her.

‘I shouldn’t take any notice of her, she was only saying that to hurt you, you do know that don’t you.  There can’t possibly be any truth in it.’  Jane said.

‘No, I expect you are right’ Harriet replied, but she didn’t sound convincing, it was too pat an answer, too un-Harriet like.  In exactly the same way as Jane had been trying to reassure her by belittling my mother’s comments, Harriet was trying to reassure Jane by appearing to agree with her.  In a way this was more terrible a revelation than the affair in the first place, or even their father’s running away and being caught.  All of those things could be gotten over – maybe.  But this, and the very fact that it was inconclusive, was suddenly a greater problem for them as a family than anything that had gone before.

Jane knew by the way Harriet was handling it, or actually refusing to handle it, that it was quite possibly the most terrible thing that could have happened.  But she just seemed to brush it aside, as if it hadn’t really registered, as if the importance Jane was attaching to it was as nothing to Harriet.  She was too nonchalant, almost light-hearted suddenly.  She wanted to go out, she felt like a drink, and Jane like a fool, for once let her go on her own.  The last thing Jane felt like doing was to act as if nothing mattered, as if it was all so much froth.  She certainly wasn’t ready to face the world, she hadn’t been out in days, she had been crying so much her eyes were sore and she must have looked awful.  But Harriet just laughed and said ‘Well, never mind, little sis. You stay at home moping about if you want to – I’m going to see what is happening in this sleepy little shit-heap we call home.’  And she was gone.  Almost before Jane had thought about it she let he go, and on her own too, and after what their mother had just told her.

 

The Masterplan

Friday 9th February

Maybe we are all underestimating Theresa May.  Maybe she is, actually, a genius who might even end up being more lauded (by some, hated by others) than Thatcher.  Maybe she has a secret Masterplan.

Maybe she already knows what we do not, maybe she has some insider knowledge, maybe she is far cleverer than all her Civil Servants, than the majority of Commentators, than the Governor of the Bank of England even.  Maybe she has a Masterplan that the EU will roll over and accept, and that even the Hard Brexiteers in her party will be ecstatic about.  Maybe she has solved the intractable problem of the Irish Border question.  Maybe she can square the circle and have no border and yet for the whole of the UK, including Northern Ireland, to be out of both the Single Market and the Customs Union.  Maybe she has a Masterplan to have completely free and frictionless trade (no border checks) with the remaining EU while not belonging to the Single Market at all – a feat not accomplished by anyone so far.  But she must have a plan.  Mustn’t she?  She must have some secret unseen, unpublished document, some ‘Peace in our time’ wonder-plan to solve these seemingly impossible and contradictory goals.

Of course she has.  We have all underestimated her.  Her Masterplan is this.

She will send her stooge David Davis along to meeting after meeting, where he will smile and smile and slowly concede point after point until Barnier and the EU start to relax as they begin to see that all that rhetoric about no Single Market, no Customs Union, no ECJ – was just that, rhetoric and bluster; and that a sensible solution was going to emerge.  Then, at almost the last minute she will breeze in and lay down the law.  No Single Market, no free movement, no ECJ, no customs union – even during the transition period – but a completely free and frictionless ‘bespoke’ deal immediately.  Or else…

Or else she will walk away with no deal (much better than a bad deal).  Which, of course, she will be forced to do – amid a blaze of publicity.  The Tory press will go to town, all the old animosities resurrected, the anti-German hostility, the anti-immigrant nonsense, the ‘stab in the back’.  Those damn Europeans being awkward again, they always hated us anyway.  We will go it alone.  And swept along on a tide of jubilant Brexiteers she will immediately go to the country to back her.  A huge majority is only four weeks away as the public realise what a fighter she is beating those pesky foreigners – her very own Falklands War.

Now, that really is what I call a Masterplan.

What Do You Make of Elon Musk?

Thursday 8th February

At first sight he is a rich self-publicist – and he certainly likes the spotlight.  But unlike most rich celebrities, he may just be one of the few people who can really make the World a better place.  But, he isn’t a conventional philanthropist like Bill Gates, who is using some (but only actually a small part) of his vast wealth to alleviate problems in Africa.  Just an aside, we often see persistent tax avoiders deciding that rather than pay their taxes and give Governments money they prefer to use some (and sometimes this is tax-deductible) of their money to do the very things Governments are supposed to be doing.  Is this fair?  Or does the end result make the Greed in the first place somehow laudable?  I am still not sure.

But Elon Musk is also a visionary.  Luckily he is also very rich.  But he seems to be using much, if not all, of his wealth to create a better world through technology.  He is at the forefront of electric cars through his Tesla company.  He is developing ‘Hyperloop’ a new form of transport using MagLev inside a vacuum pipe – potentially capable of speeds of 700 mph.  He is planning a colony on Mars.  And he has his fingers in hundreds of other pies, some potentially game-changing, some which seem plain daft.  He made his fortune largely through Paypal, which has simplified buying stuff on the internet.

On Tuesday he launched a rocket which (more or less) lands back on earth to be re-used.  But the payload was a Tesla car with a non-human astronaut set to (he hopes) eventually head for Mars and then out into the wider cosmos.  This has reportedly cost over 90 million dollars, a colossal waste of money…or the best advert ever for Tesla and Musk, or an awe-inspiring feat?  Opinion may well be divided.

One thing is for certain, we cannot stop technological change.  And I personally would rather have a maybe crazy, but visionary, man like Musk involved in that technological change than one simply interested in making more and more money.

The nagging thing is….you can never be quite sure, can you?

A close-up of Musk's face while giving a speech

Taking Politics Out Of Government

Wednesday 7th February

The trouble with Democracy is that every party, when they finally get into power is far more concerned with getting re-elected at the next election than doing the right thing.  Far too much power accrues to the Prime Minister (a sort of elected King) who not only hires and fires their own Cabinet but almost always dictates the Policy.  We now have a Prime Minister being pulled and pushed in all directions before deciding which Brexit road we will be dragged down.  And likewise, the entire Labour Party is waiting on tenterhooks for Jeremy to make his mind up too, whether to go soft or hard.

Let us look at two big issues.  The NHS is always short of funds, and at each election parties promise to fund it adequately, which they rarely do.  Wouldn’t it be far simpler to have a National Commissioning Body which decides in advance what actual funding the NHS needs, and it would then be up to Government to find the money.  Experts rather than Ministers would decide how much money a decent NHS requires. A similar system could work for schools.  But this will never happen…Taking Politics out of Government, you must be joking.

 

With Brexit itself, the sensible thing for any Government to have done on receiving the electorate’s decision would have been to have consulted widely and tried to hammer out some sort of consensus.  Difficult I know, but it could have been done if the Political Will was there.  Our whole strategy should have been decided and agreed on (as far as that is possible) before we triggered Article 50.  Instead our new PM made it a political decision.  She was more concerned with winning votes than doing the right thing.  The Cabinet are actually only meeting today to decide our end game.  This was far too important to have been dealt with in this way.

Prime Minister’s are concerned ultimately about their legacy.  How people will remember them.  And despite Mrs. May’s intention to deliver a splendid Brexit she will be remembered for yet another terribly bungled and ultimately very costly mess…Sometimes you just have to take Politics out of Decision Making, and do the right thing,

Delusions of Grandeur

Tuesday 6th February

Spain once had an empire – it involved stealing gold from American natives.  France until recently had an empire – it involved stealing raw materials from much of North Africa.  England (well, okay the UK) once had an empire which started with Slavery and ended in a series of sad defeats.  Austria-Hungary once had an empire covering the Balkans and much of Eastern Europe. The Dutch and Portuguese were minor players in this game too.  But all, except the Brits, have accepted that the game is over.  France still considers itself an important country, especially in Europe.  Spain is quietly rebuilding.  Holland and Portugal and Austria and Hungary have now accepted that they are small countries whose interests are best served as part of a much larger group of countries acting together – the EU.

Britain continues to deceive itself that we are a World Power.  There are only three World powers – America, deeply in debt and in a slow decline of its own.  Russia, still struggling economically but with vast untapped resources and a rapidly modernising army.  And, of course, China, who like the Cheshire cat sits smiling at the World while quietly getting stronger and stronger.  England still believes that we have a special relationship with America, when all we share is a language (and many people doubt even that).

When we leave the EU, these Little Englanders, these Tory back-woodsmen, these harkers back to Empire, these ‘we will fight them on the beaches’ Nationalists, believe we will become ‘Great’ again; that the World will fall over itself to sign wonderful trade deals with us.  America, which is rapidly become Isolationist and dis-engaging itself will only trade with us if we obey their rules (chlorinated chicken and all).  China will smile and smile but are only interested in selling not buying anything of ours (except perhaps Scotch whisky).  Australia is concentrating all their efforts on trading with the Pacific rim and China in particular.  Canada? – oh yes, we may well want to buy maple syrup from them but almost all their trade is with the USA.  And so it goes on.  The third world is rapidly modernising and developing its own industries; they actually own our pathetically small steel industry.  They do not need us, except maybe to launder illegal money, which we are particularly good at.

We have delusions of grandeur, we still worship the anachronism of the Royal family, we cling to the idea of the Commonwealth, as if somehow this will resurrect a fairer Empire with us still at the centre.

Out folly was illustrated by Amber Rudd on Andrew Marr.  He said that the EU would simply not give us a special trade deal with all the advantages and no immigration.  She replied that we would fight hard “Don’t imagine that we will surrender that quickly”.  And Andrew laughingly said “Oh, so will surrender slowly.”  And that is the reality.  Against the EU, we will surrender slowly – just as we did in phase one of the discussions; the EU got exactly what they wanted.  I don’t think a trade deal will even be discussed until the transition period begins.  We will have technically left by then, but nothing will have changed – except the cliff-edge will loom closer.  And our delusions of grandeur will slowly be shattered as we will either accept what they have to offer – or shuffle off into a slow and devastating oblivion

I Have Lived many Lives -11

Monday 5th February

Ah Joybells.  This was about as close to love at first sight as I ever got.  Joy was a telephonist (you know, those internal operators with plugs on the end of rubberized cables – just connecting you) at a Hotel I had just joined as Assistant Accountant.  We met over coffee and went out that night and she practically stayed since then.  I suddenly felt confident, this could work.  She was so easy-going and actually loving and lovely.  We got married and had a wonderful honeymoon in what was then Yugoslavia.  We decided to have a child and were over the moon when Laura arrived.

Things were looking up.  We moved to a nice private flat with a controlled rent (back in the good old days rents were often controlled with minimally allowed increases), I changed jobs and was earning more money, Justin was starting school and we had a lovely little family.  I joined the Labour Party and got quite involved with my local Constituency, even attending Annual Conference twice and standing for the local council (I lost – it was solidly Tory back then).  Joy started playing table tennis at a local club.  We had some great Saturday nights playing cards with friends and playing music into the early hours.  In fact it was our joint love of music which had helped seal our love; that first night we played alternately Terry Reid’s ‘River’ (her choice) and McCartney’s ‘Red Rose Speedway’ (mine).

Anyway….

It all went wrong when I discovered that she was having an affair with a guy called Peter who she had met at the table tennis club.  I confronted her and gave her a choice – leave him and we would try to get our love back on track, or leave me.

She chose the latter….

For all my fans out there, this will be the last installment in this little series (far too may people I might mention are on Facebook, but I hope you have enjoyed it…hahaha)

SIPS, SLIPS AND SNIPPETS OF LOVE 64

Sunday 4th February

Of course, he was bound to get caught one day, but he later assured Jane that he had always intended to repay everyone, that if he had ever ‘hit the jackpot’ as he referred to his dubious schemes, his first action would have been to sort out any irregularities that might have occurred.  Nice way of putting it – wasn’t it.  ‘Irregularities’.  In his mind you see he was never a crook, just unlucky.  He never accepted that he was just a petty thief who had got caught with his fingers in the till; he never accepted responsibility for his actions at all.

Well he was caught, and tried, and convicted.  He served nearly five years, and came out a broken man.   He looked at least twenty years older when Jnae saw him a few weeks after his release, an old man and not even fifty.  The house was long gone by then, as was her mother.  But what really aged him more than that or the prison sentence, or her mother’s affair, which had probably prompted his flight and subsequent discovery in the first place, was what happened to Harriet.  That had really done for him, as it nearly did for all of them.

*  * *

Poetry was always Jane’s most disliked of English Literature subjects.  She had always loved stories, and had rapidly progressed from Bunty to Famous Five and Secret Seven, and then in her teens she discovered Agatha Christie, and though she never knew how to pronounce Hercules Poirot, she couldn’t wait for the devilish Belgian to twist his little waxed moustaches and make his next brilliant observation.  At sixteen, she was just beginning to fall in love with those classic English novels; the Bronte’s and Jane Austen’s, but she did struggle a bit with Dickens and later became enthralled with Galsworthy and Gissing and Henry James, those quiet observers of English manners.

She loved Plays too, especially when they read them out loud, and she could fall into character and almost believe she was Ariel, or Titania.  Again, later she would discover Tennessee Williams and Ibsen and Checkov, but back then at school she somehow didn’t quite make the connection between Shakespeare and TV dramas.  They were so different, or so she thought.  Shakespeare was all dreamy and strange language, long sentences, and short sharp violence; and plays on the telly or Z cars were like a mirror held up to the world, where we saw ourselves, only in more exaggerated form.  Until now, that is, and no amount of Dixon of Dock Green’s had prepared her for being actually mixed up with the sordid underbelly of our society, and they weren’t sordid at all actually; her mother had never been sordid, and even her poor father was quite pathetic in his running away.

But ‘Poetry’ she never got, until actually only a few weeks before all this happened and they started reading the War Poets, and it suddenly made sense.  Jane had been completely lost in those clouds of daffodils until now.  This was real; this was real people feeling the awfulness of the trenches, the mud the guns and the boredom, and thinking of loved ones back home.   And then they read TS Elliott with that famous last line about how the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper.  Oh, how wrong he was; Jane’s world ended with the biggest bang imaginable.

Magical Mystery Tour

Saturday 3rd February

I first saw this on Boxing Day 1967, in black and white.  I watched it with my parents and their reaction (and possibly mine) would best be summed up by the phrase “They’re having a laugh, aren’t they?”

And that is exactly what they were doing.  At a loss and a loose end after the tragic death of their manager Brian Epstein they decided to make a fun film.  They already had the songs (possibly rejects from Sergeant Pepper) and they incorporated them into the film.  There was no script and very little idea except a Magical Mystery Tour where anything could happen – and probably would.

A few weeks ago I bought the DVD, recently digitally remastered and I watched it yesterday (the second time); amazing how much I could remember.  But the most surprising thing was  – it is in colour.  Brilliant vivid sunny colours, which transformed the fuzzy black and white images we watched on our tiny Murphy TV back in that psychadelic year (all that was lost in black and white.)

The whole film is a cross between an acid trip and a very English village fete filmed by a secret and surreal director watching and filming the antics.

I have had the CD for years which also includes a few ‘B’ sides from around ’67 and ’68 and have always loved those songs, even if the production was a bit hurried and not perfect at all.  Anyway I thoroughly enjoyed the film, it took me right back to the Sixties, where anything was possible.

In many ways it shows the Beatles in a totally different light, not acting, not playing for the cameras, but just being themselves.

I will wait a while before watching it again, but not as long as 51 years next time.  Well worth the tenner it cost…

Z – is for The Zombies

Friday 2nd February

Well, I recall the singles, especially the first one, the big one “She’s not There”, and that ethereal voice floating, ever floating, above the melody.  Then they sort of disappeared, the occasional single entering the lower reaches of the charts.  By 1969 they were ready to call it a day, five years since their big hit and since then diminishing returns.  They recorded one last album “Oddysey and Oracle” and then they split.

Rod Argent soon formed his own much heavier band Argent, Chris White released a couple of singles and Colin Blunstone, the voice of The Zombies took a couple of years out but returned in, I think 1972 with the sublimest of records “One Year”.  He had a string of hit albums and singles.   Argent did well too.  But what of that last album?  It was the slowest of slow burners, but gradually started to sell well and became a cult album, a musician’s record, a collector’s treasure.

And I started with Colin’s records – bought every one, and then got Oddysey, and then started to look up, mostly deleted, their earlier stuff (all available now on CD).  They have reformed a couple of times and still play the occasional concert together but are now really just Colin and Rod.  But I love the early stuff, the naïve singles, the gentle ballads, the imperfect pop of mid-sixties bands, trying desperately to sound different, to get a hit, to have a record as big as “She’s Not There”.  In a way having that huge hit was bad for them, they could never write a song that good again.  But what they did write was okay for me.  I have grown to love their early records, the failed singles and b sides too.  So, to close this little alphabet Z must be for the Zombies, an inappropriate name for an inappropriate but immensly talented group.

The Next Labour Party Leader

Thursday 1st February

Well, even Jeremy cannot go on forever – but he may surprise us all by his longevity.  After all he was the first Leader for ages who didn’t resign after not winning a General Election; I think you have to go back to Neil Kinnock.  Everything depends on how well, or badly Labour perform at the next General Election, and when that will be.  If it comes after a crisis in the Tory Party or a lost vote of confidence in the Commons then Labour may well win, but if Mrs. May can survive until 2022 (a big if) and she somehow pulls a half-decent rabbit out of the Brexit hat then who knows, – she really needs a Falklands war I suppose.

But if Labour start slipping in the polls and Jeremy decides to step down before the next election?  Well, it looks almost like a shoo-in for Emily Thornberry.  She has handled her brief well, is a steady and good TV performer and a head-to-head with Mrs. May would be interesting to say the least (handbags at dawn?).

But if Labour do badly at the next election and Jeremy is persuaded to go then anything could happen.  Clive Lewis has managed to get back into a shadow ministerial role and may have a chance.  I would like to think that Keir Starmer was a possibility but he may well be far too sensible for the current Labour Party.  Almost anyone who served under Blair or Brown is tainted.  There are a few new faces too – Rebecca Long-Bailey is mentioned, as is Debbie Abrahams – but the general public hardly know them, which actually could be a good thing.

My suspicion is that Jeremy will stay ‘in post’ after the next election, unless Labour do really badly, and in five or six years Emily Thornberry will take over.  But I have been wrong about almost every election and referendum for the last few years, so what do I know.