Cameron to Lord Young: "I know thee not, old man..."
By Paul Goodman
This is how the modern news cycle works. First, the gaffe. Second, the headline. Third, the row. Fourth, the apology. Fifth, the opposition piling on the pressure. Sixth, the sacking/resignation, and mournful exchange of letters. Seventh, the rehabilitation.
The seven ages of man. So it's a little spot of social action for Lord Young, I suppose, with a few selected photographers to hand. Or rather, that's what would be required were the former Cabinet Minister not old and rich - and independent-minded - enough not, I suspect, to care greatly, if at all.
He shouldn't have said that people will wonder what the fuss is all about when the recession's over. This will be a painful period for many people. And the never-had-it-so-good business was a gift to the Daily Telegraph's headline writers.
All the same, I'm reminded of my friend Dan Hannan's definition of a gaffe: "A statement of the obvious by a public person". And to think that Alan Clark wanted, at one point during the '80s, to install as Margaret Thatcher's succession...Lord Young himself, after the necessary by-election to the Commons.
He knows his Shakespeare, does that Mr Hannan, so here's bit of Henry IV, Part Two - the scene where young King David, sorry Henry, rejects Falstaff -
"I know thee not, old man: fall to thy prayers;
How ill white hairs become a fool and jester!
I have long dream'd of such a kind of man,
So surfeit-swell'd, so old and so profane;
But, being awaked, I do despise my dream.
Make less thy body hence, and more thy grace;
Leave gormandizing; know the grave doth gape
For thee thrice wider than for other men.
Reply not to me with a fool-born jest:
Presume not that I am the thing I was;
For God doth know, so shall the world perceive,
That I have turn'd away my former self;
So will I those that kept me company."