Queens Park Rangers football club is famous for Les Ferdinand, Ron Springett, Stan Bowles, Trevor Sinclair, Rodney Marsh and its compact, friendly ground in Shepherd’s Bush.
Three former school friends, now in their early sixties, have been season ticket holders there for many years. They sit in the same seats for every home game. One of the seats in front of them is always occupied by the same man, a fellow season ticket holder. Despite this proximity and shared loved of QPR, the three friends and the man in front had never spoken to each other until the other day.
The friends have had enough of Boris Johnson. As they waited for the kick-off they gave voice to their disapproval.
“Boris Johnson, what a liar.”
“Boris Johnson, not fit for office.”
“Boris Johnson, what a turd.”
Or words to that effect. Talk turned to the Prime Minister’s possible successors. Not much to lift the spirits as far as the three old friends were concerned.
“Rishi Sunak, you must be joking.”
“Liz Truss, no thanks.”
Or comments along those lines.
That was when the trouble started. The man in front turned round. He wasn’t happy. He exploded:
“This is football not the House of Commons! I don’t want to listen to you talking politics!”
A moment of stunned silence. How should the friends respond to this rebuke?
“We’re just talking,” said one of the friends.
“I don’t want to hear it, right?” said the man in front, seething visibly.
“Calm down, you might hurt yourself.”
“I mean it, that’s enough!” The man in front was standing up by now. He jabbed an angry finger. “And lay off Liz Truss!” he roared.
Lay off Liz Truss…
The friends knew now that the man in front was serious. A beef with party animal BoJo might be one thing. Being cheeky about the Chancellor, well, if you insist. But disparaging the Foreign Secretary, now the nation’s chief negotiator with the European Union, that was outrageous foul play; a red card offence.
Now, one of the friends got to his feet. On a different day he might have bracingly dismantled the Trusstian proposition that Britain is a nation disabled by a bloated state, high taxes and too much regulation and populated by “the worst idlers in the world”. He might have coolly proposed a progamme for national renewal in which government, industry and communities march together in the cause of progress for all. But it wasn’t an occasion for such eloquence.
“Bollocks to Liz Truss.”
Things degenerated further, obliging the two least agitated friends to step in and defuse a situation that was in danger of crossing a line between comedy sketch and comedy punch-up. The players came out on to the pitch. QPR maintained their buoyant position in the Championship table. They might secure promotion in the spring. The Foreign Secretary might beat them to it.
John Vane writes word sketches of London. Sometimes he makes things up. Follow John on Twitter.
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