All best friends again

Tony heaps praise on Gordon, Gordon heaps praise on Tony; Cherie compliments Sarah and Sarah complim

Scene 1: Downing Street. Tony is posing for his official photograph. Gordon enters.

Tony: Ah! My political soulmate. Hello!

Gordon: Hello there, old ally. You're looking very distinguished today.

Tony: Thank you. And what a typically good-natured remark.

Gordon: Well, it comes from the heart, treasured friend and colleague. Now, I'll have to decide whereabouts on the stairs to place this photograph of yours.

Tony: Ooh, between Churchill and Thatcher will do very nicely.

Gordon: Possibly, my friend, possibly. Or between Anthony Eden and Lloyd George.

Tony: Sorry, dear chum?

Gordon: In honour of a Middle East catastrophe and a peerage scandal.

Tony: I see. And when your portrait's taken it'll hang between Douglas-Home and Callaghan - in honour of government paralysis followed by electoral meltdown.

Gordon: Really, old friend?

Tony: Yes, indeed, dear buddy.

Gordon bunches his fists and moves in on Tony.

Photographer: Hold still!

Scene 2: Next door. Sarah and Cherie are having tea. The atmosphere is tensely cordial.

Sarah: Oh, Cherie, isn't it lovely now that Gordon and Tony have made up. We can all be friends.

Cherie: Oh, I agree, Sarah. And your skin's looking lovely today.

Sarah: Thank you . . . Doesn't it always look lovely?

Cherie: Of course. That's what I meant. And such a gorgeous dress.

Sarah: Ooh, I know! Gordon says it makes me look sexy.

Cherie: Ha ha! Really? I can't imagine Gordon saying "sexy".

Sarah: Why shouldn't he say it? I am sexy.

Cherie: Well, yes, I just . . . oh, never mind. Give us a twirl, go on.

Sarah [twirls]: Ta-da!

Cherie: Amazing . . . Primark?

Sarah [coolly]: Hennes, actually. And where's that beautiful skirt from? It covers your legs very well, doesn't it?

Cherie: This? I bought it, of course.

Sarah: Where?

Cherie: Selfridges. During normal shopping hours. I've got the receipt.

Sarah: Oh, I wasn't implying, you know, you cadged it or anything. Heaven forbid. I'm sure you paid the full price.

Cherie: Yes, I did, actually.

Sarah: Right. Good.

Cherie: Mmm. So . . .


Sarah: Er, bet you'll be relieved when you finally leave Downing Street.

Cherie: Sad, I think, more than relieved.

Sarah: Has Tony got something planned for you in his lavender list - I mean resignation honours?

Cherie: Oh I don't think titles are for me. But if he insists I couldn't really refuse.

Sarah: I suppose not. Although a true socialist probably would refuse.

Cherie: It would depend what a true socialist had contributed. If I'd just hid behind Tony like an obedient little slave I wouldn't have been a true socialist would I . . .

Sarah: Are you implying something?

Cherie: Implying what?

Sarah: That I hide behind Gordon.

Cherie: Well, since you ask, Sarah, yes, I think you do. Whereas I've spoken out. And I've taken the flak. And as a result I've got a voice.

Sarah: No, Cherie. You've got a mouth. There's a difference. And in your case it's a bloody big one.

Cherie [rises]: Right. That's it. I've tried being gracious to you, Sarah. I've complimented that tat you're wearing. I've praised your skin, which quite frankly looks like a Picasso, and I've refrained from pointing out that high heels and black tights on a woman your size make you look like Miss Whiplash.

Sarah: What!

Cherie: I've been a model of politeness and all you've done is insult me.

Sarah: Insult you? You just called me Miss Whiplash! [She bursts into tears] Get out. I hate you.

Cherie: Oh, Christ. Sarah, please don't cry, I went too far. I'm sorry.

Sarah: You're not sorry.

Cherie: I didn't want - I just meant, er, your clothes are a bit . . . Please forgive me.

Sarah: No.

Cherie: I'm truly sorry. I mean it. Come on. Dry those tears.

Sarah [sniffing]: Well, all right.

Cherie: Good. And we'll pop that nasty old dress on to eBay this afternoon and split the proceeds, 60-40. All right?

Sarah: All right.

Cherie: We've got to enjoy our last few days here.

Sarah: Right, then. A truce.

Cherie: Better than a truce! We're going to be friends for ever, so it's peace.

Sarah: Truce, peace. Whatever you want. Do you always have to have the final word?

Cherie: All right, a truce.

Sarah: No, have it your way. Peace!

Cherie: A truce. I insist!

Sarah: Peace!

Cherie: Truce!

Sarah: Listen, you whingeing freeloader, you wanted peace, so peace it is.

Cherie: Freeloader? You stuck-up tub of blubber. It's a truce, right, or I'll knock your block off.

Sarah: Try!

Cherie throws the teapot at Sarah who ducks and grabs Cherie by the hair. The two women go tumbling into the next room, where Tony is being held in a headlock by Gordon. Cherie and Sarah crash on to their husbands.

Photographer: Official photo, everyone! Smile.


This article first appeared in the 14 May 2007 issue of the New Statesman, What now?