The United Kingdom is trying to hold a general election. I say “trying to hold” because I cannot entertain the notion that the vote is in any way general. This election is a specific election and we all know what the specific issue is.
I have no vote and thus little interest in the outcome. I am a historian not a politician. I have stone tablets in my head and not a news ticker from Reuters. Which is why from time to time I wonder whatever happened to the man at the epicentre of the earthquake. Many is the time I ask myself the question: Whatever happened to our great and glorious David Cameron?
In case you’ve forgotten, David Cameron was Britain’s prime minister between 2010 and 2016. He is the one who promised an in-out referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union, fully expected to win it and then promptly lost the bloody thing. You think I’m joking when I remind you of these facts but believe me: One year later, many educated Germans recognise the face from somewhere but can’t put a name to it.
So what actually did become of Calamity Dave? Fortunately I have the answer.
In Herne I sometimes take a walk up the high street and have dinner at the Dionysus Grill. It’s cheap, cheerful and, depending on how literally you interpret my storytelling, it could be any one of the dozen or so Greek restaurants that we have in town. The owner, Kostas, is a warm and talkative guy who comes from Crete but has made his living here for over forty years now. My wine consumption has been financing his exit strategy from Germany for the last eighteen months so he recognises my face whenever I walk through the door.
Kostas has a cousin, Evangelos. Like Kostas, Evanglelos is a native of Crete but he now lives and works in London. For well over three decades, Evangelos has run a Greek restaurant in London’s White City. He too is looking forward to selling up and heading back to Greece soon as he has the money.
It’s not the sort of place you’d ever find in the Guide Michelin says Kostas. Or Trip Advisor or anything similar. Evangelos doesn’t get many tourists and he’s not in any restaurant guides. The only time The Flying Greek ever got into any kind of gastronomic literature was in 2013 when it was cited several times in a health inspector’s report. Evangelos is more gastric than gastronomy. That’s my joke by the way: Kostas would never say anything like that.
His cousin assures me that things have gotten better since then but high-class it is not. On a typical Saturday Evangelos mostly serves locals, Greek expatriates and visiting football supporters from the English provinces who have decided to make an afternoon’s football into a weekend in the capital.
Anyway, says Kostas, a couple of weeks ago Evangelos gets a call from David Cameron. It’s his wedding anniversary tomorrow and he’s plain forgot about it. Can Evangelos possibly squeeze him and Samantha at in at The Flying Greek tomorrow night, Saturday?
Evangelos replies that it won’t be easy –a party from Wolverhampton have booked a table for eight following their game down the road against Queens’ Park Rangers. Six guys from Rotherham have also reserved for that evening. Rotherham United have been playing at Brentford. But Evangelos remembers the name from somewhere and promises to squeeze them in.
Anyway, eight o’ clock Saturday the couple turn up on the dot. Samantha has a face like thunder. Evangelos shows them to their table. “If only you’d booked earlier” Evangelos hears Samantha hiss “we could have got in at Pizza Express!”
Dave is putting a brave face on all of this. He’s promised his wife a candlelit dinner and a candlelit dinner they shall have. Unfortunately The Flying Greek doesn’t actually put candles on the tables –that was one of the things mentioned in the health inspector’s report–but after Dave slips Evangelos a tenner the situation is resolved. Spiros, the head waiter brings out two complimentary glasses of Ouzo and a candle wedged into an empty Retsina bottle.
Samantha no longer has a face of thunder. It has now disintegrated into a face like a smacked arse. Dave senses that the time has come to take control. He gives his wife the “sensitive but authoritative” glance and orders two portions of baked feta cheese and a portion of olives followed by two souvlaki with rice. To drink –Retsina.
Spiros brings out the wine and the starters. Samantha declares that melted cheese gives her the shits. Spiros takes back her portion and brings out a salad instead. David is halfway through the Retsina. “Not to worry” says Dave “the souvlaki is top class here!”
The main course comes. Chicken skewers on a red-hot iron plate. Spiros places them gently down onto the table. Samantha still has a face like a smacked arse. A smacked arse with purple bulging hemorrhoids. Dave decides to take the intitiative.
“Do you know?!” he says –in one if those gentlemanly utterances that could be either a question or a statement. “I think we need a red for the main course. Waiter, can you bring the wine list once again please?”. He thumps his hand down on the table playfully.
Bad move. Evangelos wanted to get that table fixed but had clean forgotten about it. The tabletop flies up and hits Spiros in the face. He falls to the floor like a rookie quarterback on a fourth down. The meal is airborne and about to land at any second. It hangs in the air then begins its downward trajectory. The next table is coated in souvlaki while Spiros is hit by a glass of Ouzo right in the middle of the trousers.
Worse is to come. The candle lands on Spiros’ trousers and catches him mid-wicket. “My codger! My codger!” He is in serious danger of flambeeing his meat and two veg. In his distress he has forgotten that the correct colloquial English word for the male member is actually “todger”.
Evangelos runs out of the kitchen together with his brother Stellios. Stellios throws a jug of water into Spiros’ nether regions. It has the desired effect but the tablecloth is now on fire. Samantha cries “David -why don’t you do something!” Dave pushes his chair back and stands up. He knocks over Evangelos, who falls headlong over a table of Wolverhampton Wanderers fans.
“Watchawt yaw daft coont!” cries the leader of the party, a large, unshaven man with a thick Black Country accent. Dave moves towards him to appeal for calm. A Black Country fist flies in the direction of the former prime minister, who manages to duck. The momentum of the fist carries the assailant over his balance so that he topples forward into a table of Rotherham supporters. Pints are spilled. This is an act of war.
“Whattha fuck’s up wi’ thee?!” cry Yorkshire voices. “Cockeh fuckin’ brummie bastud!”
Football fans are good at pulling together in times of adversity and now is one of those times. The scene is like a bad western film as Yorkshiremen break chairs over the heads of men from the Black Country and men from the Black Country send Yorkshiremen flying along the length of the bar and crashing through the window. At the edge of the chaos, the former PM’s table is still on fire and has now engulfed half of the restaurant. Samantha now has the face of a bulldog chewing wasps in habanero sauce.
The fire brigade arrive first. One of their number is injured after a large object flies through the restaurant window and hits him for six. That large flying object is wearing the old-gold and black of Wolverhampton Wandererers. A policeman is hit in the face by a door as a half-naked waiter charges past, his hands cupping his genitals.
In all, 27 people are injured, 14 are arrested and several hundred thousand pounds’ worth of damage is inflicted.
David Cameron acknowledges his responsibilty and expresses his most sincere regret for the damage he has caused. He is an honourable man and believes that only one course of action can make the situation better.
As the police lock up the last of the combatants and the fire brigade put out the last of the flames, Calamity Dave announces that he will cancel his reservation and eat elsewhere.