Belfast Telegraph

Lindy McDowell: Pratfall panto politicians really are a laughing stock

By Lindy McDowell

I was going to do a jokey piece based on a Christmas pantomime this week. But the House of Commons beat me to it. In particular I'm referring to the controversy over Jeremy Corbyn and whether or not he called Theresa May "a stupid woman".

Oh yes he did. Oh no he didn't. This closely followed by the row over John Bercow, the Speaker of the House. Does he have form in using the same sexist terminology? Oh yes he does. Oh no he doesn't.

As well as "stupid woman" the PM has been called "nebulous" - that barb aimed at her by Jean-Claude Juncker. Who, needless to say, now also insists that oh no he didn't.

You'd love to tell yourself that it's a good thing these people aren't running the country - and the EU.

Except that, oh yes they are.

Other than providing work for lip readers who are currently stretched to their limits trying to keep up with who's been slagging off whom sotto voce, it's hard to work out what any of them are actually doing to sort the current uncertainty and confusion over UK withdrawal from Europe.

And the knock-on effect this will have on all facets of everyday life. As a result, the main difficulty in trying to write about non-political pantomime is in trying to predict some of the havoc that could be wreaked - and plot changes that would be entailed - in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Take for example Jacques And The Giant Backstop.

A young boy called Jacques (by his pro-EU mother) is ordered to take the family cow to the single market given that it will no longer qualify for the milk subsidy following the UK's exit from the Common Agricultural Policy.

Arriving at the hard border he is coaxed into exchanging the beast for a handful of beans. When he shows these to his mother she exclaims: "Didn't I tell you no-deal was better than a bad deal?"

She throws the beans out the window and sends him to bed without a transition period.

In the morning Jacques wakes to find his beans have had a meaningful sprout. He climbs up the giant vegetation to discover a goose laying golden eggs which cannot be traded outside the customs onion. And EU commissioners muttering about smelling the blood of an Englishman. This turns out, of course, to be just Project Fear.

Jacques shimmies back down to earth before demolishing the beanstalk since, again, it no longer qualifies for EU cereal subsidies...

Other pantomime possibilities - Snow White And The Seven Brexiteers?

Snow White is stuck in the House trying to keep control of a group of small men determined to regain freedom of movement.

Aladdin And His Wonderful Lamp - a young man discovers that the odd looking old lamp he found may answer all his wishes amid power cuts triggered by a hard Brexit.

Dick Whittington And His Cat - Dick demands a People's Vote which he believes will see him elected Lord Mayor of London.

But the cat passes a motion of no confidence. This then descends into farce when the moggy discovers he doesn't command a majority...

And, of course, the classic, The Sleeping Beauty. After Article 50 is triggered, Jezza falls asleep for what seems like 100 years, finally wakening to mutter confused stuff about a pantomime and a "stupid woman".

The Brexit pantomime should have been over by Christmas.

The ending at least should be in sight.

But is it behind us?

Oh no it isn't.

Hope Santa has presents of mind to please all

Walking through a shop this week I overheard a stressed couple who were obviously having difficulty agreeing what to buy a child for Christmas.

"Look, this would be great," said the woman, rifling through the pages of a book. "What is it?" asked her companion. "It's wee puzzles and stuff. See, this one here, you have to put the numbers in the squares."

"That's not a Christmas present," snorted the man, derisively. "That's homework." Happy Christmas, one and all. Hopefully Santa gets it right for you.

Twit-ter who created a monster

Quote of the week comes from a gentleman called Justin McConney, who will go down in history as the man who taught Donald Trump to tweet. Perhaps trying to distance himself from the blame for Trump's election (Donald's liberal use of Twitter is generally regarded as crucial to his winning the presidency), McConney recalls: "The moment I found out Trump could tweet himself was comparable to the moment in Jurassic Park when Dr Grant realised that velociraptors could open doors...

Perfume ads get up my nose

Tis the season to be jolly ... but nobody seems to have broken the news to all those glum models featuring in the annual seasonal slew of perfume ads.

The big supermarkets turn to the trusted formula of cartoon carrots, heartwarming schmaltz and Elton in their ads in order to capture our custom at Christmas.

The purveyors of perfume, however, bank on snooty types looking huffy and sour to sell their product.

You almost get the impression that it's the whiff from their upmarket atomisers that's put some of those models in such a bad twist. Either that or they're suffering wind from too many Brussels sprouts.

Poor old Johnny Depp is even more seriously destabilised than most, driving out into a desert location where he does doughnuts in his upmarket vehicle before getting out a shovel and digging a big hole into which he throws his garish necklaces.

For no obvious reason.

The perfume ads aimed at women generally feature gorgeous looking models in very high heels stalking around removing their clothing. Whilst glaring at the camera.

One woman climbs up a silk sheet before ripping off her pearl necklace. Another emerges from a subway station looking bewildered in full ballgown.

A couple who are at least smiling throw off their shoes and jump on the roof of a New York taxi for a passionate clinch...

What is wrong with these people? Are they spraying it on - or drinking the stuff?

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