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Cameron to Lord Young: "I know thee not, old man..."

By Paul Goodman

Screen shot 2010-11-19 at 13.40.17 No surprise, I suppose.

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."


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