Some politicians are as dull as ditchwater, but many have a genuinely wicked sense of humour and love an audience, however small. (I remember an evening in 1990 in a Bradford curry house with a lovely man called Derek Fatchett, a Labour MP who died far too young, who made the three or four of us present laugh so much that my head hurt. I can’t recall a single joke that he told, but it was one of those glorious nights, doubtless fuelled by lager and poppadoms, that you hope won’t end too soon.)
From the other side of the house comes Michael Gove, behind whose overgrown schoolboy looks is a mind which comes up with a stream of witty repartee. In the new, slightly risqué, Tory party he is a rising star, and is therefore allowed to write columns, like this one for The Times, which poke tongue-in-cheek fun at his colleagues. ‘Is your partner Tory enough?’, he wants to know, setting a quiz to find out. In the answer to Question No. 6, he states that if ‘The Dam Busters’ or ‘any film where Jerry gets it in the eye’ is your favourite you are ‘Simply Too Tory for words’ and need to be cossetted with copies of the Salisbury Review and bloater-paste sandwiches.
For some reason, that sentence conjures up to me an image of someone not unlike the sainted Stephen Fry – but he bats for the other team in politics, as well as in his private life. I have no way of knowing the truth, but the great man always sounds as though he wears a smoking jacket in his rare moments of leisure. Last night, he was a guest team captain on ‘Never Mind the Buzzcocks’, next weekend he is going to be driving a taxi around the USA. Has he finished his work on the new Dambusters script is the question to which we all want to know the answer!