Be careful what you wish for

1714

We all know the stories of the spiteful genie whose unexpected interpretation of those legendary three wishes leaves the finder of the battered lamp far worse off than they would have been if they had quietly passed by instead of picking it up.

Well, I say we all know, but Theresa May clearly didn’t when she caught that faint glint in the hedgerow as she was out tramping through Snowdonia in April, and said “Ooh, Philip, what do you think that is?”

So by rubbing the lamp and wishing for an unassailable majority, she has brilliantly landed us closer than we have ever been to government by a bunch of Marxist head-bangers who would undoubtedly create the sort of hell on earth that socialism has always produced, whenever it has been tried.

Which would teach “the youth” a valuable lesson that might well stick for the next half century, but meanwhile rather blight the declining years of those of us who were looking forward to a peaceful and ideally faintly prosperous retirement.

We haven’t seen it all before, because the Corbyn-Milne-McDonnell brand of loony leftism has never been tried here, but few who remember the paler version practised in the 1970s would ever wish to return to that era of useless nationalised industries, bloody-minded unions, high taxation and institutionalised incompetence.

A time, too, of some spectacularly useless domestic appliances.

I had learned to be careful what I wished for at a very early age, but had the lesson powerfully reinforced by my first girlfriend. What she wished for above all else – yes, even more than for a better boyfriend – was a Goblin Teasmade.

I should perhaps explain that my first girlfriend was a few years older than I was, and beginning to find leaping out of bed in the morning to make herself a cuppa rather a bore.

So I gave her one.

And then, a few months later, I gave her a Goblin Teasmade.

Boom, tish. I’m here all week. Try the fish.

Obviously I’d like to say that I saved up from my first salary – £4,000 p.a., taxed at penal socialist rates – in order to buy her this much desired consumer semi-durable. But in fact I took the tube (smoking carriage, naturally) to Oxford Street and stuck it on my credit card at a department store called D.H. Evans (because in 1979, people bizarrely thought that D.H. Evans was the place to buy electrical goods).

I had probably finished paying for it by about 1987.

And my girlfriend was delighted.

Me rather less so, as it turned out, because having a Goblin Teasmade on your bedside table proved to be rather like sharing an engine shed with the Flying Scotsman.

A good 20 minutes before we actually needed to get up it would start steaming and whistling, rendering further sleep impossible, so that all one could do was lie there resentfully wondering how anyone could be so blanking stupid as to covet such a blanking infuriating pile of total crap.

Eventually, when the entirely superfluous alarm buzzed, one could pour out two cups of tea with a strange scum on their surface, before adding a couple of lumps of milk from the jug of it that had gone off overnight.

My girlfriend and I split up shortly afterwards. I am not saying that it was the Goblin Teasmade wot dunnit, but it certainly didn’t help.

Not long after that I helped to vote Margaret Thatcher into office and, coincidentally or not, my life moved into its more productive phase of modest professional success, serious drunken excess, and failure-prone serial monogamy.

I had expunged that Teasmade from my memory until it occurred to me that it was far from unlike Mrs May’s election manifesto: hoping to promote happiness, yet delivering total misery and division.

I wished for Brexit. I voted for Brexit. I was careful (not stupid, not uneducated, not racist, though I can hardly escape the charge of being old). I still hope for Brexit because I think the UK as a whole will be happier in the long run as a self-governing country than as a satrapy of the European empire. And I don’t believe for a moment that the EU can or will evolve in any other way than into something very closely resembling one pan-European nation state.

That, after all, was the plan from the outset, when we were collectively gulled into joining what we thought was simply a free trade area that might make us a little better off.

Even though it is the right thing to do, the wearisome years of negotiation are clearly going to make trying to get a night’s kip next to Mallard look like an absolute doddle. And every now and then you can be sure that someone will seductively point out that, if only we changed our minds and stayed in the EU, large chunks of the Corbyn programme would helpfully fall foul of European law.

Still, I would rather live in a country free to make its own mistakes, even absolutely whopping great big ones, than one that has no meaningful say in how it is run.

Meanwhile, youngsters, please do spend a little time on the Internet learning about socialism and the 1970s, and the past affiliations of your hero Jezza, before the next General Election rolls around.

If you still feel that it’s all worth another try, may I suggest that you get yourself properly into the mood for the years of misery that will surely follow by Googling “Goblin Teasmade” and buying one on eBay? Who knows, with “retro” so much in vogue, it might even turn out to be a good investment.

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