Blair’s Second-hand Babe

February 25, 2008 at 10:52 am Leave a comment

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Blair’s Second-hand Babe

I like to read the Times on a plane journey and my new job looks as if it will take me to the beautiful city of Prague in the Czech Republic every other week or so. For a while at least. The trip takes about two hours, which is just about long enough for me to read the paper, do the Times2 quick crossword, and, complete the Killer Sudoku…..unless it is a particularly difficult one….or unless the stewardesses are particularly distracting. 

Actually, on my last trip I was particularly distracted by the advertisement on the back of the antimacassars. You know, those paper-like things that cover the seat headrest and flaps over the back. They were originally a piece of cloth protecting a seat headrest from staining by hair oil. The term is derived from Rowland’s Macassar Oil, first manufactured in about 1793. 

The ad read: ”The (crossed out!) David’s new Skoda Fabia with MP3 connection…because listening to “Love Is In The Air” on the road sounds as good as in the air” followed by the strapline “Love at first drive!”….with a picture of a bright orange car. I was offended on several levels. Firstly, it is just a bad advert. I can only assume that it was originally “crafted” in Czech and, well, just translated very, very badly. Secondly, my name is “David” and, as you all know, I drive a classic, black, 3.2 litre, V6 Audi TT dream machine with an iPOD interface. I wouldn’t be seen dead in a Fabia. At least not driving one. And you wouldn’t recognise me if I was a passenger. I would be in disguise. Incognito. Nor would you catch me listening to “Love Is In The Air”. Not since about 1978. I do not posses any John Paul Young music at all. 

I suspect that it is a subliminal message aimed at the cabin crew. “Love-is-in-the-air.com” is a dating site for cabin crew! I always suspected that the Fabia was aimed at the trolly dolly market. 

I was also distracted on the flight by a tiny reference to a previous article on another day – which I missed – referring to Ruth Kelly, Secretary of State for Transport, and her time as Entz Rep (Entertainments Representative) at Queen’s College, Oxford. The suggestion seemed to be that it was unlikely that Ruth could organise anything entertaining given her personality (or lack of it) and her leanings towards Opus Dei….unless you are into mortification of the flesh, that is. I’m not. 

This distracted me because a) I too went to Queen’s College Oxford and b) I used to be Entz Rep. I think I must have been Entz Rep a year or so before Ruth was. The position of Entz Rep was an elected post and a member of the Junior Common Room (JCR) Committee. I organised discos known as “sweaty bops”. They took place in a packed beer cellar. It got very warm and condensation and perspiration would literally drip from the low ceilings. I organised cocktail parties and would often get tipsy trying out different recipes. Film nights. Themed parties – Valentines, Halloween, Fancy Dress. You get the idea. 

I remember Ruth quite well. She was a couple of years below me. She was taking PPE (Politics, Philosophy and Economics) while I was doing Modern History. She was slimmer then. More fresh faced. But, even then she had the same hairstyle. She was also politically active back then too. And in the Labour Party.  But she was someone else’s babe before she was Tony’s (Blair’s). She was one of Nye’s Babes. Nye was and is a good mate of mine. He was JCR President at the time, for which he was rewarded with status and a huge room. Nye was (and is) blessed with the good looks of a young Charles Dance. Blond. Blue eyed. He was also politically aware. Also in the Labour Party. And, blessed with a social conscience. He was also kind of aloof at the time. He took his politics seriously. More seriously than his History studies at times. He seemed to have little interest in girls. Consequently he had a constant gaggle of young ladies pursuing him. He had a bevy of young socialists hanging on his every word and only too eager to help distribute leaflets, organize a rally and the like. And, Ruth Kelly was part of this entourage. She may have had the same hairstyle, but back in 1987 she had a definite twinkle in her eye. So, sorry Tony, but someone else got to Ruth before you did. 

It is strange seeing people that you knew from college/university appearing on the TV. Apart from Ruth, another regular Queensman on the box is Guto Harri, political correspondent for the BBC. He was in the same year as me, doing PPE. There have also been brief sightings of Neil Tunnicliffe. He used to be Chief Executive of the Rugby Football League and could infrequently be found given interviews or picking balls out of a sack at the time of a cup draw. Oh, and Rowan Atkinson of course. He went to Queen’s too.  

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Going Nowhere Fast Alfred Hitchcock – The Birds

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