Ten Years Is A Long Time

About ten years ago, two people sat in a restaurant and made a deal, about a particular house, in a particular street, and about a particular relationship between them, the house, and their roles, and the future of those roles.

No, not Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. Mairi and I.

Now, ten years later, the experiment is at an end, Blair is still in 10 Downing Street (but only just), and I am in the spare room. It’s been a long journey, with lots of ups and downs, and the parallels are uncanny…

  • Brown is Scottish, as is Mairi
  • Blair is an Oxford graduate, I have a degree from Buckinghamshire College of Higher Education in High Wycombe (pron. higgy wik-OM-bee)
  • Blair was a frustrated rock musician at college, I was frustrated at college.
  • The Blair/New Labour revolution was based on a foundation of long term social justice with the central tenet of “education, education, education” – Mine and Mairi’s relationship was built on a foundation of long term friendship, with a central tenet of appreciation of the arts, i.e. telly and pop music.
  • Mairi and I got Shuggie – Blair and Brown got, um, Peter Mandelson? Robin Cook?

I’m sure there are many more, but you get the picture. Like I said, uncanny. Another weird parallel was the fact that mere months after we got together, Princess Lady Diana Spencer of Wales was killed in a tunnel in Paris. I remember exactly what I was doing when I heard the news – I was listening to the news. Ha ha. We woke up late on Sunday morning, after fending off the Peterborough scum from our french windows all night. I came downstairs and switched on the TV, and immediately heard the words, “Princess Diana has been killed in a car crash”. I remember thinking it was a coincidence that I’d turned on the TV just at the moment it was announced, but then I realised that they had been repeating the phrase since 5am or whenever.

Over the following weeks, the country went insane, with an alarming amount of short-term revisionism, displayed most clearly in the pages of the tabloids like The Sun, The Daily Mail, The Mirror and The Express. As it happened, I had been buying The Mirror in the week leading up to that Sunday. This was because they were giving away vouchers to get a cheap flight to Europe on Easyjet – £9.99 to Amsterdam or something – and for no other reason. Every day that week, the Mirror had printed photos of Diana ‘n’ Dodi (al Fayed, the playboy son of a discredited Egyptian businessman) cavorting on a beach and shaming the entire country by acting like a right dim tart.

Then all of a sudden, The Sunday Mirror had a completely black front page. The hysterics that followed are a matter of public record, including Elton John re-writing and re-releasing ‘Candle in the Wind’ (b/w ‘I’m Still Standing’ – ho ho ho).

And now, after ten years of Dodi’s Dad Mohammed accusing everybody from the paparazzi to the Royals, it appears that if the case is dragged out any longer, no-one can be charged with any crime (I think) which means el Fayed’s staff, who some say are responsible for sending the car off with a drunk chauffeur etc. will get off scott free, leaving MeF to continue to splash scandalous headlines across that most level-headed of tabloids, The Daily Express. Sorry ‘The Express‘.

I don’t know how this anecdote reflects on mine and Mairi’s relationship. Something about head-turning car crashes? No, definitely not. 10 years of hurling blame around? Not that either.

A nation mourns – that’s closer to it. And now I need to do the same.