I hope nobody’s expecting me to produce any serious political commentary on Christmas Eve!
Instead I’m going to get right into the modern spirit of Christmas by dishing you up a repeat of last year’s programming. It was my first ever blog entry – and not intended to be taken too seriously.
I commented at the time: “I wrote what follows, a pastiche of the late, great Goon Show, to highlight governmental failings in the middle of last year , and I wanted to present it to you in this, my first ever blog entry.
I’d like to think it offers a small, satirical snapshot of the way we saw our political leaders in 2011.” Now, after another full year of Coalition lunacy, I suppose we could all look back on those days and smile wistfully. We didn’t know when we had it good.
THE GOON SHOW
THE DIARY OF NEDDIE CAMERGOON
THE TIGER ECONOMY
SPEAKER: This is the BBC. Big Budget Cuts presents: The Goon Show! Welcome to the House of Commons on this glorious day in mid-2011! I call on the Prime Minister, Mr Neddie Camergoon. Mr Camergoon!
SFX: Background noises of the House of Commons. Wolf-whistles, jeers, sheep-like bleating etc.
NEDDIE: My friend, the member for Shipley, makes a very good point when he asks why we’re letting disabled people sit on their backsides. Let me be clear on this: Walking sticks cost money and in times of austerity this government can hardly prop itself up, never mind anyone else!
SFX: Bleating, jeers.
NEDDIE: But his claim that they should be allowed to do an honest day’s work for less than the minimum wage is one that I’m sure our friends in big business will be very pleased to hear!
SFX: Bleating, louder jeers.
SPEAKER: Mr Millie Bandister!
MILLIE: Thank you, Mr Speaker, buddy. What – what – what does the Prime Minister intend to do, to allay fears that the NHS will be privatised by the back door?
NEDDIE: I thank the honourable gentleman for his question. In answering – and let me be clear on this! – I think he should know the only private backdoor I’m worried about is this!
SPEAKER: Mr Camermoon! Pull your trousers up at once! Order! We will now hear a statement from the Secretary of State for Defence on Why We Want to Bomb Johnny Foreigner At Huge Cost to the Public Purse. The Defence Secretary – Dr Liam Censored!
SFX: Background noises fade out during the following line by Neddie.
NEDDIE: Dear Diary: Leaving the House of Conmen, I made for the Prime Minister’s office in the Palace of Westminster – a sanctuary which was itself feeling the strictures of the modern drive to Austerity!
SFX: A wild party. A band is playing a sleazy version of ‘The Stripper’; there are sounds of people at gambling tables; screams of ‘Champagne all round for the Bullingdon boys!’
POSH VOICE: Great booze-up, Neddie!
BUTLER: Excuse me, sir.
NEDDIE: Yes, what is it, Clegg?
BUTLER: Sir, there’s someone to see you in your inner sanctum.
NEDDIE: My inner sanctum? But I’m the only one who’s allowed to be sanctimonious in ‘ere!
BUTLER: I’m afraid she insisted.
SFX: A door opening and closing behind his next line; the party sounds become much more muffled, but do not die away completely.
NEDDIE: Good heavens! Isn’t that–?
THATCH: Allow me to introduce myself. I’m Baroness GretMarg Thatch and this is my associate, the Lord Geoffrey—
NEDDIE: He’s just been Owww!
THATCH: Yes, it’s all the rage.
GEOFF: You gotta go Owww!
THATCH: So, Neddie, dear boy, how are you enjoying the office? I remember when it was mine, I had it decorated all in black leather, as far as the eye could see, with an erect horsewhip motif!
NEDDIE: Very striking!
THATCH: Yes indeed. I notice you’ve retained it.
NEDDIE: Well, I did go to Eton!
NEDDIE: He’s just been Owww! Again!
THATCH: Yes. He never thinks of anything else these days.
NEDDIE: Perhaps he went to Eton, too.
THATCH: Settle down, Neddie. Have a gorilla.
NEDDIE: No thanks; they hurt my throat.
THATCH: Oh – naughty gorillas!
NEDDIE: Have one of my monkeys – they’re milder!
THATCH: All right; I’ll have William Hague.
GEOFF: And I’ll have Francis Maude! Owww…
THATCH: Quiet, you steaming Lord! Now, Charlie –
THATCH: Did I call you Charlie? I do apologise. You see, you look like a Charlie to me. Why don’t you pull up a chair?
NEDDIE: I prefer to stand.
THATCH: Very well – stand on a chair. Now, Neddie, we need your help! We’ve learned that – in their last months in office – the dreaded Laborious Party were raising a deadly creature to defeat us!
NEDDIE: Those fiends! So it’s all Labour’s fault!
THATCH: You see, the Eco-gnome is too small, Neddie!
NEDDIE: Sort of an eco-garden-gnome?
THATCH: Precisely! So they started building it up into a thrusting new ‘Tiger’ eco-gnome, worthy to take on even the emerging powers of India and the Far East!
THATCH: Gesundheit. They had been holding this Tiger at bay –
NEDDIE: Tiger Bay? So it was the Welsh eco-gnome!
THATCH: – Awaiting the signal to strike! But we’ve heard that there’s a little problem with their great big tiger…
NEDDIE: What’s that?
GEOFF: It’s escaped and gone back to the wild. Owww…
THATCH: And that’s where you come in. Neddie, we want you to bring this tiger to heel before it gets out of control altogether!
GEOFF: You’ll be Top of the Toffs if you do!
THATCH: And as a reward, I shall personally give you a postal order for five pounds in fivers. That’s five whole pounds, Neddie, plus my gratitude!
NEDDIE: What an honour! I shall start at once! Top of the Toffs? Me? CLEGG!!!
SFX: Door opening and closing; party noises get louder when it opens and die away again as it closes.
THATCH: If he brings the economy under control, we’ll be well in the money. We can call on favours from the whole financial sector. Our friends in the city will make us rich beyond the dreams of Goodwin! And you know what that means, don’t you?
TOGETHER: (singing) April in Paree…!
NEDDIE: I knew I’d need help tracking down a tiger, so I called my friend Boris. Let me be clear on this: he resembles a bear more than a tiger but I thought he might have contacts.
SFX: Telephone ringtone ‘Tomorrow belongs to me’.
NEDDIE: Hello yes Boris? Fancy some cash? I need to trace an escaped—
MURDOCH: G’day Prime Minister! I hear you need help with your etcetera etcetera etcetera!
NEDDIE: How did you know?
MURDOCH: I’ve been hacking into your phone calls. What? No! What am I saying? I mean, I have my sources!
NEDDIE: And who are you?
MURDOCH: Allow me to introduce myself! I’m Major Rupert Murdoch, late of Her Majesty’s First Dirty Diggers! I’ll be delighted to chase your beast to ground – for a small consideration, of course!
BROOKS (incredibly deep voice): Major! The Tiger Economy is at large in the North of England!
MURDOCH: Thank you, Rebekah! How do you know that?
BROOKS: We got it from John Prescott’s voicemail!
MURDOCH: The game’s afoot! And now, a short interlude.
NEDDIE: Right, round the back for the old brandy!
MUSIC: Captain Ska – ‘Liar Liar’
SPEAKER: Part Two, in which our heroes (ha ha) find themselves in a position familiar to many commuters in modern Britain.
NEDDIE: Why are we slowing down?
MURDOCH: We can’t go this way! There are rioters up ahead and your Home Secretary has called out the Army!
NEDDIE: She’s done what? I thought we sacked all the squaddies. Right! Turn around!
SFX: Car screeching to a halt, reversing, squealing into motion again.
NEDDIE: That’s better.
SFX: Car screeching to a halt.
NEDDIE: What now?
MURDOCH: It’s a student demonstration against the trebling of tuition fees and the scrapping of the EMA, whatever that is!
NEDDIE: Turn around again!
SFX: Car reversing, squealing into motion again.
NEDDIE: All these U-turns! At this rate – and let me be clear on this! – we’ll never get anywhere!
SFX: Car screeching to a halt.
NEDDIE: This had better be good.
MURDOCH: It’s a tree that’s fallen across the road!
NEDDIE: What what what what what! Now even the forestry is putting us into reverse? (Sighs) You know what to do.
SFX: Car reversing, squealing into motion again.
NEDDIE: Stop! Stop the car! I want to get off! Stop stop stoppeee!
SFX: Door opening.
BYSTANDER: ‘Ere – ain’t you the Prime Minister?
NEDDIE: Why, yes! That’s right…
BYSTANDER: If that’s what you do to yourself, think how we feel about yer!
NEDDIE: Dear Diary – We found ourselves in a desolate slum alley that could be anywhere north of Finchley.
MURDOCH: Right, this’ll do. Assemble the troops, Rebekah.
BROOKS: Yes sir. Anything else?
SFX: Lots of ‘falling in’-type sounds as Murdoch’s slovenly band of ragtags assemble themselves.
MURDOCH: Hacks – from the right, number!
HACK 1: One
HACK 2: One!
HACK 3: One…
NEDDIE: Why are they only saying the same number?
MURDOCH: My hacks all think they’re number one! Right, boys – spread out and look for it!
HACKS: (Rousing cheer).
MURDOCH: The beast! Look for the beast! You’re not at the News of the World now!
HACK: Major M – we’ve found a lead and we’re pursuing it!
MURDOCH: What? Ooh, me narglers, that was quick! Show me.
BROOKS: This is the man, sir.
MURDOCH: Thank you, Rebekah. Go and have a drink of water. Now, what’s the matter with him?
NEDDIE: He’s out cold.
MURDOCH: That won’t do at all! Quick! Open up his jacket and take the weight of his wallet off his chest!
WILLIUM: Ohhh – Mate! Hands off the merchandise!
MURDOCH: That’s more like it! Speak up, man – what happened to you?
WILLIUM: Ohhh – Mate! I come up here to get away from the pressures of the city, didn’t I? Me banker’s bonus was getting’ me down, mate!
NEDDIE: What what what what what what? You were feeling guilty that you had so much and other people didn’t have anything?
WILLIUM: Nah, mate! Not big enough for the holiday I wanted in Bermuda!… Only six watts? You’re not very bright are you?
NEDDIE: I don’t wish to know that.
WILLIUM: Well, I just—
NEDDIE: Ying Tong Iddle I Po!
WILLIUM: All right, well I come up ‘ere instead. There I was, mindin’ me own business when some bloke sez, ‘Dost tha’ see that ‘orrible cloud on’t ’orizon? ‘Appen ah wunduhs what that is, lake’. I didn’t understand a word but up I looks an’ WALLOP! First I was inflated, then deflated and then I went into a slump!
HACK: That’s how I found ‘im, sir!
NEDDIE: You poor man! How do you feel now?
WILLIUM: A bit downhearted, mate.
NEDDIE: He’s going into a double-dip depression! Quick! Get him to a hospital!
SFX: WHOOSH! (Ambulance noises) WHOOSH!
MURDOCH: That was quick. Was that a National Health ambulance?
NEDDIE: Good lord, no. They can’t afford ambulances these days! That was from the new, private healthcare company – Neddie’s Health Service! Now give me his wallet. Let me be clear on this: he’ll need every penny where he’s going!
ORCHESTRA: Musical link.
NEDDIE: Dear diary: Days passed by – I couldn’t stop them! – with no sign of the recalcitrant beast. Then:-
SFX: Door opening.
MURDOCH: Camergoon – we’ve got a lead! And we’re going to put it on your beastie! This man says he’s seen the eco-gnomee in the flesh!
SPRIGGS: Hello Jim! Hello Ji-im! Hello Jim.
CAMERGOON: You’ve seen it? It’s come out of recession?
SPRIGGS: No Jim, I’m saying it’s been living in my house!
SPRIGGS: I came home for the weekend and there it was, feet up, reading the paper, Jim. In the library.
CAMERGOON: Hmm. The library, you say?
SPRIGGS: The library I sa-ay!
CAMERGOON: Where does he live? I mean, where do you live?
MURDOCH: Number 23 Perversity Gardens, Twinge! We can get there quick if we hop on the next musical link.
ORCHESTRA: Musical link.
MURDOCH: Ahooh Oh Ooh! That’s what I get for hopping on a link with no corridor! Here we are!
SFX: Knocking on the door. Door opening.
SFX: Donkey noises.
CAMERGOON: Excuse me. I’m so sorry to bother you, but we have reason to believe the British economy is living at this address.
SFX: More donkey noises.
CAMERGOON: Only we’d like to have a word with it, if possible. Could it come to the door?
SFX: Elephant roar, followed by donkey braying and farting. Door slams.
SPRIGGS: Oh dear, Jim. What will the neighbours think?
FLOWERDEW (camp voice): Shut up you! It was perfectly quiet here before you came along!
NEDDIE: Hang on. An elephant – and then a donkey? And we’re looking for the tiger economy?
NEDDIE: It’s all rather confusing, really.
MURDOCH: We’ve got to show it who’s boss!
NEDDIE: Let me be clear about this-
OTHERS: (collective groans at what is now clearly a catchphrase that he’s used far too often)
NEDDIE: We’ll have to starve it out! Quick! Cut public spending by 16 billion pounds! In Sterling!
SFX: Animal shrieks.
MURDOCH: Here it comes!
NEDDIE: I don’t wish to know that – oh I see.
SFX: Door opens. Hoofbeats galloping nearer.
SPRIGGS: At last! The economy is speeding up!
MURDOCH: Don’t let it get away! Grab it! Look out – it’s going to charge!
SFX: Hoofbeats. Thud!
MURDOCH: Mind the pond!
LITTLE JIM: He’s fallen in the wa-ter!
MURDOCH: Here lad – take my hand!
NEDDIE: Why? Are you a stranger in paradise?
NEDDIE: I swam to the shore, towelling myself off as I went to save time. Then:-
SFX: Hoofbeats. Donkey noises and farting sounds.
NEDDIE: It’s weakening! One more push ought to do it! Push VAT up to 20 per cent!
SFX: Donkey farts. A monumental crash to indicate the beast keeling over.
MUSIC: The Specials – Ghost Town.
NEDDIE: Dear diary – oh! I seem to have mislaid it! Perhaps I dropped it in the melee? It’s all Labour’s fault! Never mind. We returned to London in triumph and imprisoned the beast in the darkest dungeons of HM Treasury. For the task of minding it, I called on my two best men…
BOTTLE: Have you ever minded a vicious tiger eco-gnome before M’Eccles?
SFX: Rapturous canned applause.
M’ECCLES: (Pause) No.
SFX: More rapturous canned applause.
M’ECCLES: Oi’m not really boddered by it now, either. Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer Bluebottle sir.
M’ECCLES: It does not bodder me… at all.
BOTTLE: You’re a happy-go-lucky boy, ain’t you, M’Eccles?
M’ECCLES: Yer. ‘Ere, wait a minute…
SFX: Elephant/donkey noises.
M’ECCLES (over the top): Dat made ‘im jump! Did you see dat? Ha ha har! Did you see, Bottle, dat-
BOTTLE: You’re a naughty cruel thing, M’Eccles! You might have an eco-gnome of your own one day!
M’ECCLES: Oi don’t t’ink so, Bottle. Oi always wanted to work in der Treasury but der bigger boys wouldn’t let me! Look at M’Eccles dere, dey said. ‘E can’t do ‘is sums, loike. So, I just sit ‘ere wid moi bricks an’ ignore dem!
M’ECCLES: One an’ one is two; two an’ two is four; four an’ four – One an’ one is two…
BOTTLE: I can add up better than that! Alice Thripp has been teaching me. You’re a silly-
M’ECCLES: You want to be careful what you say to me, Bottle! ‘Ave you heard of Traf’n’galgar Square an’ Mill’n’bank? Well… just you watch it den! Oi’m der Secretary of State for Education, me!
BOTTLE: Yes. You’re an important man in White’n’hall!
M’ECCLES: Yeah, yeah.
BOTTLE: So why does you keep on makin’ up different types of school and then spending hundreds of dozens of Sterling-type pounds on them?
M’ECCLES: Oi’ll tell you why, moi good man! If oi keep goin’, oi’m bound to foind one dat doesn’t make me stand in a corner wid a pointy ‘at on moi ‘ead!
BOTTLE: But I don’t know which school I’m goin’ to, now! There’s five on my street!
M’ECCLES: Dat’s freedom of choice for you.
BOTTLE: Is that enough amusing-type dialogue for the listeners? Good, ‘cos it is time to feed the ani-mile.
M’ECCLES: Well all right, oi’d like bangers and mash. And afterwards, if you’re nice, oi might let you pat me on der head.
BOTTLE: Not you, my good man!
M’ECCLES: Oh you mean der udder animal. Ho-kay den, what ‘ave we a-bin givin’ it?
BOTTLE: Disabled people … and students.
M’ECCLES: Yeah- ‘Ere! Oi’m der Minister for Students ‘ent oi? If you’m feedin’ ‘im students, who am oi goin’ ter be der boss of?
BOTTLE: Do not worry, my good man! My captain says it is all right. He says he’s makin’ your job easier.
M’ECCLES: Well den, moi good man, oi’ll make your job easier!
SFX: Footsteps fading away into the distance.
BOTTLE: What is this? M’Eccles? Where is you goin’? Don’t leave me in da dark! I don’t like it here!
SFX: A loud clank – a chain rattling. Then a loud noise of a chain breaking.
BOTTLE: What’s dat? M’Eccles? Was that you? Are you having a practical joke-type laugh? Are you gonna come back so we can be all boys together? I’ll let you go ‘Owww’!
BOTTLE: He’s gone.
BOTTLE: I wonder what it would be like to see the inner workings of a major western economy first-hand?
BOTTLE: Oaoww so this is what it’s like!
SFX: Choking noises. Loud crash. Death rattle.
NEDDIE: (Voice fading in, to show he’s entering the room) Right, let’s get to work on this Econo-thing! We’ll soon have it jumping at our very command – wait! What’s this? Why is it lying on its back with its legs sticking up in the air like that? Call me a pessimist, but- I… don’t think it’s supposed to be doing that!
NEDDIE: Clegg! Prise its jaws open!
SFX: Loud creaking sound.
BOTTLE: You rotten swines!
NEDDIE: It’s a masticated Chancellor! What are you doing in there?
BOTTLE: You’ve deaded me! Look at my superhero-style shorts! They’re all chewed to ribbons! I am expo-sed! How am I going to get Molly Prock to look at me in the playground now?
NEDDIE: If you’re that exposed, it won’t be a problem! Clegg! Close it up again; it’s the only way he’ll be quiet!
SFX: Loud creaking sound, over BOTTLE’s protestations.
BOTTLE: But- No- My Captain- Wait- It’s all gone dark!
NEDDIE: Dear diary- oh, silly me! I lost it. I’ll have to make a mental note. Mental note: What am I going to do now? The economy is as dead as the NHS will be, if Andrew Lansley gets his way. We must revive it! But how? It’s all Labour’s fault!
MURDOCH: He’s musing.
BUTLER (Clegg): Not very.
MILLIE BANDISTER: Mr Camergoon! I want a word with you!
NEDDIE: Mr Bandister! Good morning! What can I do for –
MILLIE: (drowning him out as soon as he’s said ‘morning’) Mor-ning!
(Everyone joins in, so we get a chorus of ‘Morning!’s for a few seconds).
NEDDIE: Are we done?
MILLIE: Yes. Mr Camergoon, allow me to introduce Henry Crun. He’s a private investigator.
CRUN: Yes, Millie. I investigate privates.
MILLIE: You naughty devil!
MILLIE: Tell him what else you’ve investigated.
CRUN: Mr Camergoon, I found a diary!
NEDDIE: What’s that got to do with – wait! No! Not … my diary?
CRUN: Would you mind toning down the overacting so I can read you an extract? Here’s a good one: “May 10. Now I’m PM I’ll be able to give tax breaks to all my rich pals from the banks and the Bullingdon club – the plebs can pay down the deficit! When they fail, I’ll use it as an excuse to cut public services or privatise them, then my rich chums can profit even more! I’ll say it’s all Labour’s fault!’
MILLIE: Shame on you, Mr Camergoon!
CRUN: Yes, Millie. Or this one: “I may have been economical with the truth during the election campaign but I’m sure nobody will remember me saying that VAT won’t be going up. Or that we won’t reorganise the NHS. Or that there won’t be any frontline cuts. Or that –‘
MILLIE: Yes, Henry, you’ve made your point.
CRUN: That – what? Please don’t interrupt, Millie! This is a long list! Now… where was I?
NEDDIE: Who knows?
MILLIE: Mr Camergoon, you have not been straight with the British people! When I heard about your tax breaks, I asked the people at Customs and Exercise what was going on and they said £120 billion per year isn’t being collected from the rich! Either you get them to pay up now, or you can pay it off yourself!
NEDDIE: Now, let’s be reasonable-
MILLIE: We have your diary! It’s all the proof we need. When the public find out about this, they’ll want your head on a plate!
CRUN: And possibly other parts of you. Your cuts have made them very hungry and you are quite… rotund.
SFX: Commotion as of a door opening. Sound of a tape being played very fast to indicate conversation.
BUTLER: Sir! Disaster! Riots have broken out in London and are spreading to other cities! It’ll cost at least £100 million to clean up!
MILLIE: So Mr Camergoon – who will have to pay? Your rich tax-dodging Bullingdon banker chums? Or will you foot the bill?
NEDDIE: Come come, dear friend! Let’s not be hasty! Let’s discuss strategies! Let’s talk about it! Let me be clear on this!
EVERYONE ELSE: (Groans. Cries of ‘Not again!’)
NEDDIE: Let’s all go ‘Owww’ together!
MILLIE: Yes – for £100 million pounds!
MILLIE: One hundred million pounds please!
ORCHESTRA: Signature tune and down for:-
SPEAKER: That was The Goon Show, a Big Budget Cuts programme. Script by Mike Sivier in tribute to Spike Milligan – Order, order! – and the programme that was originally produced by Peter Eton, Pat Dixon, Charles Chilton and John Browell.
ORCHESTRA: Signature tune up to end.