No offence, but I’d rather have Peter Rabit. Or Raabit from Winnie-the-Pooh

Richard Heller is a former columnist for the Mail on Sunday

Here he offers The Chiswick Calendar his thoughts on the state of our nation.

Boris Johnson is on the mend. The Sun greets this event with a headline that crosses the frontier between sycophancy and blasphemy: “Now it really is a Good Friday!” I dread to think of its headline should Boris get up on Sunday and have a little walk. If it keeps up this sort of stuff, the Sun will lose its reputation as a serious newspaper.

Saturation reporting of Boris Johnson, but no further news of Nadia, the stricken tiger at the Bronx Zoo. Not my idea of balanced coverage.

Our country is now in the hands of Dominic Raab, who was the sixth choice for leader by his party’s MPs in the last Parliament. No offence but I’d rather have the late Raab Buttler. Or his distant cousin Jos, who isn’t doing much at the moment. Or Peter Raabit. Or Raabit from Winnie-the-Pooh, or any of his friends and relations, including the beetle Henry Small. Or why not the Easter Bunny, who will be free this weekend, as only the New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, had the acuity to notice?

This is a dangerous time for the Raab we’ve got. There is no apparent end of lockdown and people are vexed and frustrated. Familiar goods have returned to the shops and there is no thrill any more in detecting loo roll or celeriac, or in devising exotic recipes for pilchards with dried apricots, to make use of forgotten items in store cupboards.  Plans to use the time for self-improvement have long been abandoned. Great novels pile up unread beside settees, language courses have stopped at lesson 3 (although I can now say “¡Caramba! El postillón ha sido alcanzado por un rayo” should the need arise)[1], hectoring fitness videos have been silenced as have wheedling meditation gurus. People have stopped shaving or flossing and sartorial standards at home are making a vertiginous descent: even I no longer change my tie to compose light verse.

I warned the government some time ago about the peril to zoo animals in the crisis and now poor Nadia the tiger has caught the Covid virus in the Bronx Zoo in New York. As a caretaker leader, Raabit could not survive such a development here. He will probably order mass testing for all our zoo creatures, or at least the cute ones.

My junk email folder is usually full of Nigerians offering me untold riches, or else offers to enlarge an intimate part of my body or reduce all the others. Now it has been invaded by a faux bonhomme called William. Showering me with spurious wishes for my health, he offers to sell me face masks and protective clothing at a bargain price.

Get away with you! I suspect that your masks and clothing would disgrace a child’s Halloween costume. If they were any good, I would want them to cover a health worker not a bouche inutile such as mine.

Bouche inutile was a ruthless French military term for people who made no contribution to the nation’s war-fighting capacity (sadly it included much of the French army in 1940). I think it might usefully be extended now to people who spread fake news about Covid19. President T Ronald Dump will know whom I mean.

[1] Spanish for “Good lord! The postillion has been struck by lightning”, a probably apochryphal useless sentence from Victorian language guides.