Love in the Time of New Labour

The marvellous love story between Miss Bird and Mr Fish began with a car crash at a crossroads near East Croydon station. Miss Bird was speaking on the phone to her best friend, Mrs Hook, and so forgot temporarily the rules of driving, which caused severe damage to Mr Fish’s Aston Martin. When he got out of his car (or rather of the remains of his car), he was really annoyed, all the more so since it was the second time this year that a female driver had hit his £200,000-vehicle. But his anger disappeared immediately as soon as his eyes saw Miss Bird’s face. “It was like seeing Venus herself,” he would say later to his psychoanalyst. As for Miss Bird, she was very annoyed too, because it was the second time this week she hit a sports car near East Croydon station. But her embarrassment disappeared immediately as soon as her eyes saw Mr Fish’s bald skull. “It was like seeing Yul Brynner himself,” she would say later to Mrs Hook. In a single word, it was love at first sight for both of them.

However, surprisingly, nothing happened after they had filled in the accident report and after that the breakdown trucks came and towed the two cars to the garage. In fact, Mr Fish was too shy to act promptly; besides, he had an appointment with Dr Vogelfänger, his psychoanalyst, so he left the garage quickly. Once she was alone, Miss Bird found a phone-booth and tried to call Mrs Hook: she wanted to ask her for a lift home. Unluckily, at the very same time, Mrs Hook had a dinner with her fancy man at a French restaurant in Chelsea, and was eating snails – which is far more disgusting, according to the English code of behaviour, than being unfaithful to one’s husband. Miss Bird therefore had to go back home by tram.

In the following days, Mr Fish couldn’t forget Miss Bird, and he tried to find a way to catch this white dove. He talked a lot about her to Dr Vogelfänger who eventually, in the middle of a particularly troubled night, suggested that he bought a second sports car, for instance a German one, until the Aston Martin had been repaired. However Mr Fish got a better idea: he decided to serenade Miss Bird, and, with this intention, he hired a brown-bearded guitarist. The beard was very important for Mr Fish. Firstly, it reminded him of the hairy nations of Southern Europe, especially Italy, a country which is renowned for its love singers and romantic landscapes. Secondly, this beard would be a hidden message to Miss Bird, a way to tell her that his own baldness wasn’t the sign of personal hostility toward hair, but only the unfortunate result of biological process. Anyway, the serenade was quite successful, actually so successful that everybody in the street enjoyed the music played on the guitar, and the musician made a lot of extra money from the passers-by. Unfortunately, this unexpected influx of money drove him mad: three months later, he shaved his beard, joined New Labour and started a prosperous career as a banker at the Royal Bank of Scotland.

How could Miss Bird have resisted such a serenade? “I can resist everything except temptation,” Oscar Wilde used to say. Miss Bird could resist neither a serenade nor an Aston Martin, and at the end of March 2003, at St. Peter’s, she said “I do” when she was asked if she wanted to tie her destiny to Mr Fish’s. It was the same day when Tony Blair decided to invade Iraq in case a missile from Baghdad should hit the wedding party within forty-five minutes. Many guests attended the marriage, including Mrs Hook (the maid of honour) and Dr Vogelfänger (the best man). Dr Vogelfänger suggested a cruise along Birmingham’s canals for the honeymoon, and it can be reasonably assumed that the first child of Mr and Mrs Fish was conceived on the boat.

Today, Mr and Mrs Fish live happily with their two children at Addiscombe. Every summer, they spend three weeks on holiday on the beaches of Normandie; they own a house near Cabourg that they were able to purchase thanks to a loan granted by the ex-guitarist working at RBS. Malicious tongues are saying that the youngest child of ex-Miss Bird looks like Dr Vogelfänger much more than her husband, and that Mr Fish has found some consolation into Mrs Hook’s arms, but these offensive remarks are nothing but gossip. Some people don’t really know anything about love (and New Labour)!

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