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Coffee House General Election 2017

Theresa and Philip bored the nation with their strong and stable relationship

How was last night’s TV squirm-athon? The sacrificial victims handled it pretty well, at first. Theresa May and her unknown husband, Philip, were roasted live on a BBC sofa. The idea, presumably, was to make them seem relaxed, normal, unexciting, not too posh, at ease with themselves and, above all, genuine.

Dull Phil sported a bland shirt, no tie, and a forgettable jacket. With his gnomish pallor and his thick-rimmed spectacles he resembled Sir Ian McKellen entering a Woody Allen lookalike contest. Mrs May was in headmistress mode. Her wandering lips – each has a life of its own – were painted in hard-Brexit scarlet. She wore a black-and-white tunic that looked like a pixellated chess board.

Phil wisely played the Sphinx during the opening rounds. His wife answered the questions and was almost melodramatically banal. Life in the vicarage had been ‘very solid,’ she told us. She had met ‘a range of different people’ while growing up and she had learned to treat ‘everyone as you find them’. When making important decisions it was crucial to ‘do what you think is right.’

Phil livened things up with the earth-shattering revelation that his father had worked in footwear. His wife’s lifelong obsession. Was that why she married him? Discount shoes. No, no. The attraction was mutual we were told. ‘Love at first sight’ was mentioned.

Did he fancy her straight off?

‘Absolutely,’ he enthused, rather inappropriately. ‘She was a lovely girl and still is.’

Turning his happy-spaniel face towards her, he plucked her hands out of her lap and squeezed them impetuously. Mrs May resisted the urge to head-butt her husband on live television and smiled indulgently at his adolescent posturings.

Phil was asked if he could name any drawbacks to life in Number Ten?

At this point he suffered a three-second brain-wipe. He cupped his hands and revolved them in a weird gesture of supplication while his speech rhythms fragmented and collapsed.

‘First of all it’s an enormous privilege for Theresa to, you know, to, for Theresa, to, being in this job for me, to, to be there alongside her. And I think I get to see, to meet the most fascinating and interesting people.’

Then he addressed the question.

‘There isn’t really a downside but obviously if you’re the kind of man who expects his tea to be on the table at six o’clock every evening. …’

And they discussed ‘tea’, and which of them cooked ‘tea’.

Tea? That was the giveaway. ‘Tea’ varies enormously according to region and class. Tea, in the vicarage, is a cake-themed refreshment taken at 4 pm. But in the north of England, where the Tories hope to snaffle up lots of Labour voters, ‘tea’ is the main evening meal. Never in a million years would the Mays call it ‘tea’. They’d call it ‘supper’. Somebody must have given these Home Counties fakers a crash-course in how to ‘sound all northern’. Possibly it was William Hague. And to be fair Phil had memorised the vocab correctly. But genuine? He sounded the opposite.

Finally he was asked about his wife’s shoe-fetish. Did he have a sartorial perversion to match her kitten-heel craving?

A pause.

‘Ties’, he blurted out. Then he realised he wasn’t wearing one. A fib obviously. ‘And jackets’ he added. ‘Jackets and stuff’. Another total fib. But those mishaps apart, it was job done. Quiz survived. Nation bored. Tories undamaged.

Would anyone want to watch these yawn-tastic nit-wits bluffing their way through another TV inquisition? Please God, no.


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