Rose – a screaming clown – it was plain that he had to go. He couldn’t remember the name of the organisation; he mixed up Sweden and Switzerland at one top clamjamfrey. At last they phoned me up – they all did – Cameron, Osborne, that incredible woman who’s currently Home Secretary and dresses like a prostitute, and they said to me: you simply must lead Britain Stronger in Europe, Henry. You should be the one and it can only be you. With your life story, you’re Remain incarnate.
So I’ll let you in on my life story. Normally, an autobiography begins with, “I was born on a stormy night in Wrexham, the cows wailed for miles around,” or what have you, but I deviated radically from the script from the very beginning. You see, I was never born at all.
Even today I’m still in my mother’s body. She’s massively sedated and gigantically obese – they cart her around in a kind of wheelbarrow, only more clinical, and she has drips attached, nurses constantly tweaking the controls. Meanwhile, I’m sloshing about inside, as frolicsome as a dolphin.
I’ve never wanted to come out and I’m never coming out. Other people have been born and I dare say it’s worked for them. But you’re always safer and stronger in, that’s what I say. An exit would be only asking for grave uncertainty, incalculable risk.
At Eton I excelled, though they had to laminate all of the textbooks and exam papers before they were inserted into my mother’s vagina, to combat the dampness. Still, my people hail from that vulgar class which has money and the extra expense was scarcely a nibble.
The pride that I have always taken in my appearance commenced from when I was a schoolboy. Why, my friends would exclaim as the neatly folded tailcoats and pinstripe trousers were being passed in and out, don’t you just come to school in the buff? Nobody can see you in there! No!, I would gurgle back. It would be letting down the side – slovenliness is still slovenliness, even if you can’t see it. So my dress was immaculate – the collar starched unpityingly, the studs twinkling, the shoes shined up a picture. I had to hold my top hat under my arm, due to the low ceiling, but it was always beautifully groomed.
After school I went to Oxford and then on into the City. First met Rose – or Lord Rose as we’re now expected to call him – at a board meeting at Marks and Sparks. I could tell he was a bad sort, even then.
“Why don’t you come out…?” he blithered. It’s so tiresome whenever I meet new bods. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve trotted out the same conversation. Like that thing with Cinderella’s slipper – everyone assumes that they have the foot that fits or, in my case, the precise way of phrasing things which will finally tip my mind over and persuade me to reverse an entire lifetime.
“I’m not coming out,” I replied. “I’m almost forty. I’m too old to be born.”
“But think of all the things you’re missing out on. All of the wonderful things we enjoy out here.”
He began to try to tempt me out with some items from the Marks and Spencer food court. Overpriced punnets of seedless grapes and crisps made out of parsnip shavings. “I’m perfectly content with this cord,” I interrupted him. “Please don’t go to the trouble.”
You can imagine the hilarity which echoed around the womb when I learned that Rose was to be the chairman of Britain Stronger in Europe. A man of whom in my dealings with I had found to have no conception of fidelity or the moral imperative for staying put. The argument that we are better, safer, and stronger by pooling our resources. It’s an argument that I have lived with every second of my being.
When it comes to commitment, a number of conspicuous figures on the Remain side have proved to be not the firmest of personalities. The government minister Anna Soubry affords an unhappy instance of this. Several years ago I proposed marriage. She put on a snorkel and bathing suit and penetrated my mother’s body to see what life with me would be like.
I took her on the tour. “See, I have a laptop here, where I can check my emails and watch catch-up episodes of Daily Politics. Here’s the cord which supplies all of my food and oxygen. Outside, you can never predict what will happen, but every day in here I enjoy unparalleled security.”
I could already see that Anna was turning a little green. “Are there any bubbles?” she asked uncertainly. “Like in a hot tub?”
“Bubbles are generally a bad sign,” I warned.
“Henry, you’re a lovely guy,” she murmured seductively. “But I just feel that there are greater opportunities for both of us outside of your mother’s womb. You can form new and interesting relationships which simply aren’t possible in here.”
And the next thing she’s on Question Time arguing that everyone should remain in the European Union. Evidence of an inconsistency, no?
These people who harp on about all of the advantages of being born! They are very smart, but they are rather too smart for their own good in my opinion. It’s wisest to distrust the ingenuity of those who were born yesterday.