Warning – today’s blog contains traces of smut. If that sort of thing offends you, you might want to look away now.
There is one reference to “a boner”, an American term for … a very specific symptom of a happy chappy. But as that word is only used in this paragraph and you have passed it already, it’s probably not a biggie. Oops, I did it again.
This is the point where my beloved wife – aka the Mem – switches off and goes to do something else. Sorry, dear, I need to indulge my inner 12 year old.
You see, this week at Parliament, the Prime Minister, Theresa May, made a smutty remark.
Prithee, allow me to set scene. It is Prime Minister’s questions in the House of Commons. The House is packed with every seat being taken and standing room only at the back. Middle-aged and elderly buttocks are squeezed against other middle aged and elderly buttocks.
It looked a little like this …
Actually, it looked an awful lot like that. Exactly like that. It could even be a photograph. Isn’t technology wonderful?
Prime Minister’s question time is one of the cornerstones of that collection of superstitions, traditions and mutterings that we like to call a democracy. The Prime Minister is held to account by having to answer questions fired at her by Members of Parliament (MPs).
Bizarrely, the MPs cannot address each other directly. Instead they have to talk to each other through the speaker. So they have to say things like: “Mr Speaker, is the Prime Minister aware that my constituents are terribly worried about the price of strawberry jam?”
And the Prime Minister will reply with something like: “Mr Speaker, I can reassure the honourable gentlemen that the Government is determined to do something about the price of all preserves made from summer fruits.”
There is a weird code about how MPs talk about each other. An opposition MP is “the honourable gentlemen” or “honourable lady” … even if they are about as honourable as Donald Trump in a Miss World changing room.
A member of your own party is “my honourable friend” … even if the most friendly thing they have even done is to wipe the knife before sticking it in your back.
A senior politician is a “right honourable” … even if they are further to the left than Karl Marx.
It is perfectly possible to describe someone as the “right honourable gentleman” when they are neither right, nor honourable, nor a gentleman.
And occasionally they call each other “honourable members”. There is a smutty reference in their somewhere, but I am not going to go there.
Anyhoo, we digress. Our scene begins when the delightfully named Peter Bone MP gets to his feet to ask a question.
I had not come across this MP before (oo-er), but apparently he has a habit of including references to his wife in his speeches.
Nothing wrong with that, as I hope the Mem will testify.
This is what the honourable member said:
“It’s my birthday today!
The Prime Minister has already given me a huge birthday present by letting everyone know that we will be out of the European Union no later than the 31st March 2019.
Could I press her for another present? Her policy of closing Victorian prisons and opening modern ones is an excellent policy.
Would she support the reopening of Wellingborough prison as part of this excellent policy, or would she prefer to just sing happy birthday?”
So far, so normal. He has cracked a joke, supported his party and asked a question that his constituents would be interested in.
Theresa May gets to her kitten-heeled and leopard-print feet. She replies:
“I would say to my honourable friend I am very happy to wish him a very happy birthday, many happy returns.
I hope that Mrs Bone is going to treat the occasion in an appropriate manner.”
And the House explodes in a torrent of guffaws. The Prime Minister was almost certainly talking about something genteel. Maybe Mrs Bone would bake a cake. Treat him to an evening at the theatre. Crack open a bottle of something fizzy.
The mainly male and pale MPs had other birthday celebrations in mind. Surely I don’t need to paint a picture here? They are thinking of that little thing that you like but your other half doesn’t because it’s slightly uncomfortable, degrading, possibly painful, sticky, archaic, stereotypical and … “oh, if I must”.
I have met Theresa May, and she didn’t strike me as the sort of person to make a smutty joke. You might say that she doesn’t have a smutty bone in her body. You might say that, but you probably shouldn’t. Maybe Mrs Bone could have accurately said that on Wednesday night.
And that makes it funnier. If someone deliberately makes a smutty comment, it doesn’t have as much comedic value as someone pure in spirit accidentally doing it. It’s not funny when the Donald talks about “grabbing them by the kitty”. That’s just Trump being odious and unelectable.
When a vicar or Prime Minister says it accidentally, that’s genuine comedy. It isn’t so much the smut, it’s the effect it has on the characters and what it tells you about them.
There’s a sting in the tail. I hate to do this to you, my friends, but it has to be said. The people doing the laughing in the House of Commons are mostly middle aged men. The average age for an MP is 50. That’s more or less my age. Peter Bone MP is 64 and we must assume that his wife is of a similar vintage.
The image that you probably don’t want in your head is how these 50-60 year olds celebrate their birthdays if their other halves are as accommodating as the smuttiness suggests.
Because when you reach the simply wonderful half century, nocturnal Olympics become something for which you are incredibly grateful but they are probably not something to share with others. It’s more a mutual kindness than a spectator sport. Leave that to the young and lithe.
One half of the joke is the Prime Minister talking innocently about Mrs Bone helping Mr Bone to celebrate his birthday in an appropriate manner. The other half of the joke is the thought of how all the other MPs like to see in another year of existence.
Sorry about that image. Here’s a nice picture to take your mind off it:
I suppose the last word ought to go to our previous Prime Minister. David Cameron once said that a very big part of his life was dedicated to giving pleasure to Mrs Bone.
He may have been bragging about the “very big part”.