Being a citizen is hard graft, kids. This was an excerpt from The Bluebird’s Keystone Cops-esque existence yesterday morning :
“You sir! Get in the building! Yes, don’t think I can’t see you! YOU IN THE BLUE SHIRT. Get back, into the building. And I can STILL see you. Yes! Stay away from the windows! Yes, I mean YOU!”
If a copper could “Tsk” or “Tut tut” through a loud speaker, this rozzer would have done. It took me a while to get over the whole fashion suicide short-sleeved blue shirt thing, but when I did it turned out there was some kind of terrorist alert because a plank had left a suspicious looking motorbike parked in Brook Street and so they cordoned off our plentiful and glamourous corner of West 1. Whatever it was, it turned out not to be an explosive device, as pretty damn soon the cordons came off and the police suddenly weren’t there anymore, as if they had vanished into some sort of strange, municipal dream. Probably Prince Harry left it there on his way to Mahikis or wherever the ginger and eligible party these days.
Perhaps not. Perhaps it could have been a super-injunction slayer? I only say that because Max Clifford works in our street (I’ve seen him, accompanying weeping slatterns who’ve slept with Premier League footballers, walking with them into the kitchen and bunging a Nescafe into their astonished hands, before arranging to give them a career so they can buy their mums bungalows.) The whole world would fall apart if the contents of Max Clifford’s desk was to shower down over the West End, like publicity confetti. Not that I approve of making jokes about bombs of course, kids. I’m only teasing.
For, to be sure, there is nothing else you can do when the Metropolitan Police tell you to stay in your building (I did not see Max Clifford break this curfew). You stay in. Occasionally there were yelps and starts, but mostly ominous silences as the pedestrian traffic on our road was emptied away until the street looked like a film set before a shoot. A piece of blue and white ribbon went up which would have been nice and festive, if it hadn’t been warning us away from a bomb alert. Again, PC Truncheon strutted up the end of the Mews, spitting into his loud-speaker and then suddenly disappearing an hour later, when it turned out to be a Domino’s pizza delivery moped – or similar- that had caused the raucous mess in the first place. In the wake of a possible – no, actually at the time what we thought of as a probable – terrorist attack, we do what the British always do; have a gossip and make some tea and keep calm and carry on. I never really understood those silly T-shirts before, but keeping calm and carrying on is all that inhabits that thin line, my friends, between holding on to sanity in the face of uncertain death and just going nuts and screaming and running down the street with no clothes on saying “GAAAH! Ladies! Gents! We’re all going to die! AHHHHHHHHH!”
At least it was more exciting than doing our constitutional duty this morning and voting on the ever-dreary AV idea. So lousy, but in order to nip it in the bud altogether, I had to go to the polling station. In my case, the polling station is an infant school, which smells faintly of child sick and Pledge. It still had a vastly decorative “Kate & William” celebratory corner for the royal nuptials outside the gym in a serious of jingoistic posters. It smacked of a bank holiday hangover. When I went into the polling room, I was swiftly advised against performing an illegal act or something. Like ticking a box where you should have put a cross. Needless to say, if that had happened, they would have cordoned me off and announced me to be a terrorist threat, like that unfortunate bike.
But – people – could voting be any more depressing? If the turnout is due to be low, as expected in London, as we don’t have the local council elections today as per the rest of the UK, thereby denying an incentive to turn up inthe first place, couldn’t they try harder? Would it be too much, dear House of Commons, to include a bar, and the price of a drink included with presentation of ballot paper? A chill-out zone once the constitutional duty has been performed? It simply isn’t good enough. I want the parliamentary process to be carried out with brio, stealth and zeal. I want each party leader personally welcoming me into the polling booth: “Good morning, Mrs Bluebird. May I say how fetching your hat is? Please go forth and vote, madam. Oh no. NO. Please don’t put the pencil in your handbag. See you at the next hockey tournament at Chequers! That’s if Kenneth Clarke has recovered from the kneecapping you gave him last time! Ha ha. Cheerio.”
Alas, it shall not be. But is it any surprise that how citizens are treated constitutionally is preoccupying my dizzy mind this week? I have been encouraged to wave a flag like a nutter at a collection of despots and Germanic lunatics at La Wedding Royale, I have been bullied into not being able to go to Pret and get a latte, coz of some terrorist threat which featured a policeman shouting up at the office window (how common) and now I have been dumped into the austere, sober and dull as dishwasher episode of the AV ballot. I have been harried into three constitutional roles since last Friday. Not counting the Republican lunch I avoided on the Day of La Wedding Royale, which seemed to shoehorn me into yet another role of angry republican. I had not a bean of interest in doing this because I was too busy admiring Tara Palmer Tomkinson’s hat. I have got constitutional schizophrenia. After all, aren’t there only so many things a citizen can be? And did those people at Buck House even send me some cake ? Did they? No. Peasants. I am waiting for David Cameron to send me some cake for thanking me for turning up this morning, but as usual he won’t bother. He hasn’t been the same since our third date when he met my mother. Mostly, I blame the Liebfraumilch.
Dear citizens, this week, sod ’em all. The great advantage of an unwritten constitution is we make it up as we go along anyway. So, take advantage of that pleasant political loophole : have your own wedding, have your own AV / not to AV party. Put your flags away. Get those toothy Prince William celebratory mugs out and put your feet up and have a right good cuppa. Enjoy your liberal freedom of this ‘ere green and unpleasant land. I constitutionally decree it. Oh – and please watch out where you park your motorbike.
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