VERSA | The emptiness of Nick Clegg

Nick Clegg awoke from a night of restless sleep to find that he was still a politician. He shifted blearily out of bed, reached down onto the floor, and pulled a wrinkled pair of suit trousers over his European flag boxers. He sidled over to his dressing table and punched a photo of Evan Davies. He swore in Dutch. He began to step over to the wardrobe, only to find his trousers slipping down his buttocks. “I have to tighten my belt,” he thought. But it was a difficult decision. One hole tighter and he would be getting in the way of his body’s natural growth. He did it anyway, and looked down at his alarm clock. It was 6:29. Twenty seconds later, his alarm went off, and the European anthem rang out around his bedroom – but Nick kept staring glumly into the mirror, unmoved. Not even Ode to Joy could lift his spirits this morning.

Nick walked downstairs. His hand grasped for the red briefcase he had picked up every Monday morning for the last five years, but it wasn’t there. In its place was a reusable Lidl bag filled with papers and amber-coloured notebooks. He draped the bag’s handle over his wrist and fixed himself some green tea. He had to go soon.

Miriam came downstairs. “I’ll make breakfast,” she said.

Nick turned around: “It’s a good day for bacon sandwiches, don’t you agree?”

In grim silence, his wife placed a box of muesli and a bowl on the table. At that moment, his children came rushing down the stairs.

“Daddy, are we going to the funfair this afternoon?” asked his son.

“I’m afraid not – but we’re going to the shopping centre in Colliers Wood instead, and that’ll be just as great!”

“But Daddy, we wanted to go to the funfair! You promised!” said his son.

“I’m sorry,” Nick said, “but sometimes we find ourselves making promises we can’t keep. I realise now that my promise of the fair was unsustainable, and, if I had to do it all again, I’d never have suggested it. The funfair’s so expensive, and look where the last decades of going to fairs has got us. We can’t stay on those rollercoasters forever, on that cycle of rising and plunging, and the inflation on the bouncy castle was unsustainable. Anyway, if I hadn’t been there, your mother would have taken you to South Thanet for the day. We should really just be happy to be going out at all.”

Without another word to his crestfallen children, Nick walked over to the hall. He thought back to that day in the rose garden, almost exactly five years ago, when everything had seemed so bright, and he and Dave had held each other’s hands, looked into each other’s eyes, and said: “we can do this.” He had thought of that moment every day since, the smell of the roses, the sunlight in the journalists’ eyes as they asked Nick and Dave excited questions. And Dave agreed with Nick – everyone agreed with Nick. Dave was still in Number 10, without his faithful companion. Nick felt his stomach rumble. His muesli hadn’t agreed with him.

Nobody agreed with Nick any more.

Tags: clegg — lib dem — liberal democrat — nick