June 16-18: cycle tsar, big chair, solitary confinement

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Sunday, June 16

A Father’s Day card (pictured left) from my daughter, in absentia. It seems she has taken to heart my advice that you should always dream the impossible dream.

Today’s papers are full of the Conservative leadership battle, although it would appear Boris’s main rivals (Gove, Hunt, Javid) are now jockeying for positions in his cabinet. In the Sunday Times investigative reporter Andrew Gilligan asserts that beneath the buffoonery Boris is actually a political genius, but also admits that when Johnson was London Mayor, he (Gilligan) was his “cycle tsar” and therefore may be biased.

Despite increasing media consensus that it’s Bojo’s to lose, the history books tell us that the outsider usually wins in Tory leadership elections (Thatcher, Duncan-Smith, Cameron), so my money is still on the will-o-the-wisp Rory Stewart, and not just because he is my MP. Last week, John Oliver even devoted five minutes to him on Last Week Tonight. Meanwhile Boris has declined to appear in a TV debate with the other candidates tonight, on the grounds that it will be “rather cacophonous” – and on this at least he has my vote.

A desultory 30 miles on the bike in aid of Operation Holiday Bod, thence to Keswick again to pick up G and a pal from their Duke of Edinburgh outdoor adventure. They are in high spirits despite (or maybe because of) lack of sleep and a 10-mile yomp from one end of Derwentwater to the other today. No casualties reported overnight, although three of their friends managed to lose their phones. However they seem awestruck that another managed to complete a dozen levels of Kingdom Rush on his whilst crossing the fells. On the way back we stop at the McDonald’s drive-thru, and between them the girls demolish 20 chicken nuggets and two bags of fries in the back of the car.

A leisurely bath listening to Al Murray’s WW2 podcast and then settle down to the final episode of Berlin StationFor some reason the show has been hidden away in the More 4 boondocks despite being consistently excellent for two seasons. Rhys Ifans, as the dissolute CIA agent, is particularly watchable.


Monday, June 17

Parker confuses a stick for a tree on his 4am walk

Wide awake at 3.45am. It is as light outside as it was when I went to bed at 10.30pm last night, which makes me wonder if it actually got dark. Take a very confused dog for a walk and conclude that, if this mild form of insomnia continues, I could always become a milkman.

Today has been set aside for the Day Job, so at least I can make an early start. I’m writing a speech for the chief exec of a major UK logistics company. It is weird putting words in other people’s mouths, but at least he is a fellow Geordie so I can chuck in a few jokes about NUFC.

The first time I met him, it transpired that he went to the comprehensive school down the road from where I used to live in Newcastle. When I mentioned that I was a pupil at the fee-paying Royal Grammar, he smiled and said: “Aye – but look who’s in the big chair now!”

Pitch an idea to Nell Dunn, a producer at Radio Cumbria. It’s for a series of in-depth, one-to-one interviews with local notables – a sort of Desert Island Discs, but without the Discs. Working title: Interesting Cumbrians.


Tuesday, June 18

Little Rory Stewart is still in the running after the latest Tory leadership vote.

I interviewed him once at an event at Westminster and was impressed with his knowledge of independent cheesemaking in north Cumbria. If this is a sign of his ability to master a brief, then he will make a formidable Prime Minister. He is worryingly thin, though, and I fear that he may struggle to assert himself in those G7 group photos, next to the likes of Donald Trump, Justin Trudeau and Angela Merkel.

Solitary guy: Gomorrah boss Don Pietro

The next vote is tomorrow, and if he survives then against all the odds Rory will have made it to the final showdown – in which case, all bets are off and his advisors should start feeding him up immediately.

Based on rave reviews for season 4 of Gomorrah, we binge-watch the first three episodes of season 1. Excellent, although I can’t help thinking I’ve seen them before. Or was it something else? Box-set amnesia is very much a thing these days. In episode three the jailed Camorra boss Don Pietro is put in solitary confinement – a 6X6ft cube containing only a mattress. J says she thinks I would probably enjoy it.

In Day Job news, I am now a PR consultant for the British and Irish milling industry – something I would not have predicted this time last month, or indeed ever.


One Comment

  1. Agree with your appraisal of Rhys Ivans. He carried the show. Spoiler alert – ‘Season’
    3 let down by wimpish ending. Time to move on?
    Wee Rory is out of the race. Didn’t help him when R.Crampton described him as weird-looking in The Times…well I suppose he is really.
    Congrats on the new consultancies. The British & Milling job looks a bit of a grind. Unless they mill coinage. Keep up the communiques.

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