By the waters of Leynarvatn, J.Alfred Prufrock - MP for Grummidge West, real ale enthusiast, Faroe Islands devotee, Wolves fan and cycle lane maniac - sat down and wept. Or would have done, were his expectations of life greater and his experience of Parliament less. The last streaks of sunset were decorating the Streymoy skyline like a rainbow. Beside him, his Blackberry flickered in the gathering dark.
"PHONE GREG HANDS," it declared. Prufrock groaned aloud at this intrusion from the world outside - this serpent of a message sent to destroy his paradise. He had fled to it five days earlier consumed by sensations of almost unearthly joy. The best part of a week free from constituents! And from Mrs Prufrock, and young Billy Wright Prufrock, and even younger Wilhelmina Wright Prufrock!
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Panic bells were clamouring in Downing Street tonight and Conservative Campaign Headquarters was thrown into turmoil at claims that glamour-denuded, "post-political" and IPSA-impoverished backbencher J.Alfred Prufrock is poised to issue a historic challenge today to David Cameron for the Tory leadership.
One source close to the now Twitter-enabled MP said that he will issue his "Turquoise Manifesto" this morning, and that a list of supporters - who will be branded as "Candidate Champions" - will follow by lunchtime. An intervention at Prime Minister's Questions is planned for later this week, with letters of no-confidence in Cameron to be sent by Thursday to Graham Brady, the '22 Committe Chairman.
Prufrock himself, however, denied the claim when contacted by ConservativeHome earlier this evening and asked for his comments on the story. "This is a very naughty conversation. You are being very mischievous," he said. "I supported David Cameron to become leader. I love him and want him to be leader for the next thousand years. I am going to end this conversation." He then hung up.
However, friends of Prufrock insist that "Albert is sitting on up to 60 no-confidence letters", that over 150 Tory MPs are "signed up in blood", and that a team of secret backers, known in the lobbies as "FrockHeads", have been stalking the tearoom gathering support. "We have enough signatures to send Cameron to sleep with the fishes," one supporter said earlier today. "Alfred is poised to throw his toupee into the ring."
Prufrock's "No Change, No Chance" manifesto offers a "Five Point Plan to Save Your Seat":
Other populist manifesto features include "a real ale supermarket maximum pricing scheme".
Prufrock, who describes himself as a "a pragmatic Euro-realist sceptic", will also push for Britain to supplement its special relationship with the U.S with "a new strategic alliance with the Faroe Islands". A plan to encourage annual school visits to the Molineux Stadium has been dropped. Asked by ConservativeHome for his views on same-sex marriage, a supporter said: "His position is a stroke of political genius. He is both for it and against it."
Prufrock leads Telegraph leadership poll
A chaos-stricken Number 10 conceded earlier that it is facing defeat. "We can't think of anything unpleasant to say, because we've simply never heard of him," a senior Downing Street source admitted. But Prufrock's allies hit back: "Albern is completely unforgettable, once you can remember who he is," one said. "Dull is the new cool." Earlier yesterday, the Grummidge MP was narrowly outstripping Boris Johnson in the Daily Telegraph's Tory leadership reader poll.
Grant Shapps, the Conservative Party Chairman, claimed that "I have spoken to Aldrich, and can confirm that like all of us he is 100% behind David Cameron. There's nothing to see here: just move along, now." However, Prufrock sources claimed that in a re-enactment of the famous scene from "Spartacus", a crack team of 50 hardline "Frockheads" will stand in their places crying "I'm Prufrock!" during Wednesday's PMQs, before stripping to T-shirts bearing the slogan.
I'm Spartacus! I'm Prufrock!
Quizzied over whether their man is a "Stalking Horse" or a "Stalking Donkey", in the tradition of Sir Anthony Meyer, a Prufrock supporter described him solemnly as a "Stalking Womble". Asked if he was aware that the leadership rules no longer require a stalking horse, the supporter paused for a very long time. There is no sign that this fact has dampened the plot. Nor that it will prevent us, since we're desparate for a splash on a rainy January Sunday, from writing about it.
By Paul Goodman
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The witching hour was gone; the iron tongue of Big Ben had tolled twelve, and only the mice were stirring in Room 101, Portcullis House. Apart, that is, from its occupant - J.Alfred Prufrock, MP for Grummidge West, who was finishing off his pre-Christmas constituency correspondence. Through thick lids and gummy eyes, Prufrock peered at the draft before him with the scrupulous care of a Mayan High Priest examining a calendar:
Dear Canon Heffer (it ran),
Thank you for your e-mail about same-sex marriage. While I wish to deny to no-one the happiness that marriage has brought to me, I am extremely mindful of the points that you make about religious freedom and, indeed, our Judeo-Christian heritage. I will therefore reflect carefully on the points you make before deciding how to vote. As you request, I will also alert Maria Miller, who as say is responsible for forthcoming legislation on the matter, to the point you highlight from the briefing supplied to you by Anglican Mainstream - namely, that "the rectal lining is unable to withstand penetrative activity".
J.Alfred Prufrock MP
By Paul Goodman
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"Hey Prufrock, you old f**kbag! What are you up to while reading this, eh? Fiddling your expenses or knocking back champagne in some subsidised bar, I suppose. Well, listen to me, b*****d. What I want to know is why yet AGAIN I have to pay above the odds for my rail ticket. I mean, do you have any idea how your constituents live? How can you defend the cost of my daily commute to Shakespeare Lacey rocketing by almost 15%? And btw tell Cameron to get his finger out of his a**e! Yrs Sergeant Fury
Prufrock pushed his spectacles up the bridge of his nose, and studied this message for perhaps five minutes, as if probing it for some hidden meaning. He might have been an archaeologist poring over a fragment of Etruscan pottery. Finally, he sighed deeply, left his inbox, opened a file marked "PRU letters", searched for "rail fares", and got the relevant letter up on-screen.
By Paul Goodman
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"You see, Albert," said Stephen Crabb, Whip to J.Alfred Prufrock, MP for the marginal West Midlands seat of Grummidge West, ""we have to ask ourselves: how can we best help the Prime Minister? And let's face it, the best way we can do so is by voting for Second Reading. Because, let's be honest: this bill has a future. All that voting against Second Reading will do is to record a futile protest, delighting Labour and damaging party unity. So you see: it's in all our interests for the bill to pass. Or to put it more plainly, David Cameron wants you to vote for the bill. I'm sure you get the point." And with that, Crabb reached out, tugged Prufrock's right-hand shirt cuff with his own right hand, winked, and sauntered off into the "Aye" lobby.
Prufrock turned, and found himself, as chance would have it, facing Priti Patel. "You see, Priti," he said, "we have to ask ourselves: how can we best help the Prime Minister? And let's face it, the best way we can do so is by voting for Second Reading. Because -"
"- Excuse me," Patel cut in, staring at Prufrock with a curious detachment, as if from an infinite distance. "But...Do I know you?" And as Prufrock bowed his head in embarrassment and raised it again, he found himself gazing instead, as if by some act of cinematic magic, upon the masterfully-drawn mouth, visionary gaze, noble countenance and domed philosopher's forehead, as majestic as the dome of St Peter's or St Paul's Cathedral, of Jesse Norman.
By Paul Goodman
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This Wednesday's 1922 elections will be a multi-dimensional contest: left v right, younger MPs v older ones, critics v loyalists, Golden Dawn v Pink Sunset (plus some independents, just to complete the confusion). A slate organised by the 301 group, as Tim has previously reported, will run against a slate that isn't. We are hearing the views of many people from both tickets and none about the Government and the '22 itself - and will hear even more during the next few days - but we haven't heard so far from the man who will decide the contest.
Enter my old friend, J.Alfred Prufrock MP. Prufrock represents an urban seat with a rural hinterland in the West Midlands, which he won by the unreassuring margin of some 3000 votes. He has two children at local schools (having promised before the 2010 election to educate them there), a wife who works in the constituency office (she can cope with constituents, just; she can't cope with MERLIN at all), a home ten minutes drive from it, and a flat in Vauxhaull with a leaky ceiling about which he is in permanent correspondence with IPSA.