Support 100 years of independent journalism.

14 June 2007

Pay for it twice? It’s not a Saudi arms deal

Gordon and little John set up a charity shop to raise money for Africa. But for Cherie, parting with

By Red Box

Scene 1: The Blairs’ flat. Cherie is at her dressing table applying make-up. Gordon trots in with little John.

John: Hello, Auntie Cherie.

Cherie: What do you two want?

Gordon: Lovely morning. Looking beautiful, as ever, Cherie.

Cherie: Cut the smarm. You’re after something.

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. A weekly round-up of The New Statesman's climate, environment and sustainability content. A handy, three-minute glance at the week ahead in companies, markets, regulation and investment, landing in your inbox every Monday morning. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A weekly dig into the New Statesman’s archive of over 100 years of stellar and influential journalism, sent each Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.

Gordon: As a matter of fact we’re raising money for Africa.

Cherie: Oh, not again. Will that place ever stop bleeding us white? Put me down for 50p. I’ll have to owe it to you. I’m skint.

Gordon: Actually, young John has decided to set up a little shop in Downing Street selling gifts donated by all the nice people working here.

Cherie: Really. And he dreamed that up on his own?

Gordon: Yup. Clever little lad, eh? And we knew you wouldn’t want to miss out.

She throws one of Tony’s egg-stained ties at him.

Cherie: There.

Gordon: Er, well, we were hoping you’d do a bit better than that. Everyone’s been very generous. Hilary Benn has offered his services as a share tipster. I’ve donated a nuclear submarine made of lolly sticks. And John Reid’s given us a signed copy of habeas corpus – which’ll be quite a rarity once it’s been repealed.

Cherie [rummages in her bag]: OK, you scrounging do-gooders. Have that.

Gordon: A lipstick?

Cherie: I lent it to Angela Merkel at the G8. And Ludmilla Putin. It’s decorated some of the world’s most powerful smirks.

Gordon: OK, thanks. And how about that lovely handbag, too?

Cherie: No way. It’s worth nearly a grand. It’s a Tanner Krolle, custom-made for me by . . .

Gordon: Grab it, John.

John snatches the bag and runs out.

Cherie: Hey, come back, you little thief.

She rushes to the door. Gordon blocks her path.

Cherie: Out the way!

Gordon [eases her back to her chair]: Come on, Cherie. You’ve got lots of bags.

Cherie: That one’s special.

Gordon: But think of the poor, underprivileged people who can’t afford a bag like that.

Cherie: It’s for Sarah? You should have said.

Scene 2: Tony’s office, two hours later. Tony is going through his MI5 phone directory, trying to flog honours while he still can. Cherie comes in, fuming.

Tony: What’s up?

Cherie: Bastard Features next door has pinched my handbag.

Tony: Pinch it back.

Cherie: I can’t. He’s leaked it to the press that I donated it to John’s stupid “shop for Africa” stunt.

Tony: We’ll get you another.

Cherie: It’s unique, Tony. Tailor-made from baby seal fur to make my hips look narrower. You’ll have to buy it back.

Tony: What, pay for it twice? It’s a bag, not a bloody Saudi arms deal. Anyway, we can’t afford it.

Cherie: Try shifting more honours.

Tony: I am trying. And it’s not that easy. I just offered David Beckham a KBE for five grand. Cheeky sod turned me down. Reckons it’s too early in his career. What the hell’s wrong with these people?

Cherie: He’s probably holding out for a peerage.

Tony: But he’s just a clapped-out midfielder. It’ll look very odd putting him in the House of Lords.

Cherie: What, because he’s loaded and useless and can barely remember his own name?

Beat.

Tony: You’re right. He’d be perfect.

Scene 3: The Cabinet Room. John is counting up the cash. Only one thing remains unsold. Gordon decides to auction it.

Gordon: Come on, folks. Final item. Just five grand for this lovely handbag, which Cherie has generously donated – well, after a small scuffle. Come on. It’s in a noble cause.

Cherie: Yeah. Making you look good.

Gordon: Well, hardly. All this money will buy 30 water purification units for children’s hospices in Africa.

Cherie: So next time Madonna goes orphan-shopping she won’t have to bring her own Evian.

Tony: Shut up, darling, you’re making a fool of yourself.

Gordon: Any takers?

Hazel Blears is jumping up and down with her hand up, but no one can see her.

Gordon: Hilary? Come on. We know you can afford it.

Harriet Harman raises her finger.

Harman: I’ll have it.

Cherie: What? You never spend more than fifty quid on a bag. And it shows.

Harman [writing a cheque]: It’s not about the bag, is it, silly. This is about investing in the future.

Gordon: Absolutely, deputy prime minister. I mean Harriet. So we have a sale. Unless there’s a better offer in the room . . .

Hazel Blears leaps up on to the table, making herself just visible over Hilary Benn’s head.

Blears: Gordon. I’ll give you six grand.

Gordon: That’s more like it.

Harman: Six grand? For a handbag? It’s a disgrace. What kind of country are we living in? I’ll offer seven.

Blears: Eight.

Harman: Nine.

Cherie: Ten.

Gordon: Done.

Cherie: What?

Gordon: Sold to Cherie Blair. What a beautiful gesture. Ten thousand pounds for Africa.

Cherie: Er, Tony?

Tony: Don’t look at me.

Cherie: Might be time to call Lord Beckham.

Topics in this article: