Ivory Tower: English Literature in trouble? It is now, as we look at a classic.
The Tragedy of MacBoris
The higher education and research folio
Written 1606 (or nearly ten past four)
Read by Jennifer Arcuri
Additional Shakespeare scholarship by Mr B Johnson (contracted expert)
A blasted heath. Thunder and lightning. Enter three weird twisters of the ERG
When shall we three meet again
In the chamber, lobby, or on a train?
When the RMT strike is done,
When the referendum’s won.
Salutations fellow weird folk.
To meet with MacBoris?
Fair is foul, and foul is fair:
Jacob Rees Mogg please ask him to comb his hair.
Here cometh the man.
Enter MacBoris and McGove
So foul and fair a day I have not seen.
I know, we have won the referendum but what do we do now?
All hail, MacBoris! Hail to thee, one time shadow higher education minister!
All hail, MacBoris! Hail to thee, mayor of London!
All hail, MacBoris! Hail to thee, foreign secretary!
All hail, MacBoris, thou shalt be world king hereafter.
All hail McGove, former education secretary!
All hail McGove, lesser than MacBoris and greater*
[Ed note—in Shakespeare’s time “greater” meant “more grating’]
Thou shalt make kings, though thou be none.
McGove and MacBoris, all hail.
(The weird twisters disappear)
Crumbs and blimey, I will be king, but you shall make kings.
You okay with that?
Yessssss… [They eye one another suspiciously] To the battle bus!
Act 2 Scene 1
Lady Carrie MacBoris receives an SMS messenger
The wallpaper is gold,
That sees the latest entrance of the Goves,
Under my battlements. Come, you decorators
That are paid by party donors, redeisgn me here,
And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full
Of direst furniture!
My dearest love,
I know I said I was just popping out for a pint of milk,
Actually, been on a trade mission.
Never mind that. The Goves are coming for dinner,
I shall send for more ready meals.
Then you must dispatch them.
Call an Uber?
Take the crown for yourself.
If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well
It were done quickly: get Brexit done,
With an oven-ready deal,
But all I have for the Goves is an oven-ready meal.
Michael is here in double trust;
First, as I am his fellow journo and Brexiter,
Strong both against the deed; then, as his host,
Who should against his betrayer shut the door,
Not bear the knife myself. But you know,
Complete self-interest is my nature,
So, time to despatch the Govish creature.
Enter McGove and the Lady Sarah
Is this a blagger I see before me?
’Tis worse than that, he is completely unfit for office,
And you must betray him.
Oh, that’s a given.
So, screw your courage to the sticking place and we’ll not fail.
Just to be sure, I think I’ll take,
A couple of lines of… err… Shakespeare to help.
Hush, I hear a knocking at the gate.
I think they are just having an ABBA party upstairs, it’s a lot of hassle,
For the defeat of the Lord Cummings, caught unawares in Barnard Castle.
A dining room
Is Lord Lebedev joining us tonight?
No just the McGoves.
Enter McGove and Lady Sarah
I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that MacBoris,
Cannot provide the leadership that we need,
Therefore, I am declaring my candidacy for leader of the Conservative Party.
Sayeth the kettle to the pot!
[McGove stabs MacBoris in the back but in so doing somehow manages to fall on his own sword]
I am slain, by my own hand. All hail!
At least it will make a good column for the Daily Mail.
And I’ve survived because I am so thick skinned,
And completely insensitive. I’m the king,
Yeah, for me!
Can I be chief of staff?
A blasted heath, and the weird twisters of the ERG
Double, double toil and trouble;
Corbyn done, and Covid bubble,
Sue Gray’s report and Partygate,
He’s got the country in quite a state.
No levelling-up, high inflation,
But we’ll say this in mitigation,
Vaccines or protocol,
He got right the biggest call.
What now weird twisters?
Do you have another prophecy, for me?
MacBoris shall never vanquish’d be until,
The education secretary Donelan, Michelle,
Shall resign ere the cock crows twice.
Well, that’s never going to happen. I can’t see,
That any fool would put Donelan in charge at the DfE.
All hail MacBoris! If you have some moments,
I have a list of Brexit benefits.
First, now we are free of EU customs and buyers,
We can increase the voltage on hairdryers.
Err… send it to me in a memo, I’ll definitely read it with my spouse,
But now I have to meet a donor about building a tree house.
10 Downing Street
There is a delegation of ministers to see you sire.
But where is the Lady Carrie?
She has taken the children and gone to stay with her mother for a few days.
’Twas always a risk I had to carry,
Which would run out first? Other people’s money or the Lady Carrie?
Enter ministers of the crown
‘Tis time to go MacBoris for I cannot tell a lie,
And you cannot tell the truth.
Et tu Zahawi? I made you chief of our exchequer but a day ago,
Art thou resigned?
I’m resigned to you leaving, so I have asked the Lord Crosby,
To run my leadership campaign.
Enter the ghost of McGove
I see it now, you’ve all conspired,
At least for old times’ sake I can tell Gove that he is fired!
Exit the ghost of McGove
But the weird twisters have said, MacBoris cannot be overthrown,
Til Michelle Donelan picks up the phone,
And resigns within 48 hours,
Of having been given secretary of state powers.
My Lord, I have a message from the Lady Donelan, She says,
Though appointed two days ago, she can no longer put up with your mistakes.
Them’s the breaks.
I will then sit here for three months while you elect another leader.
All by myself, alone in the dark.
Does anyone have a number for Greg Clark?
Exit the ministers and MacRaab
I should have left hereafter;
There would have been a time for one more column.
Telegraph, and Times, and Mail,
Chasing headlines from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all my lies have lighted fools
The way to dusty Brexit. Out, out, so much scandal!
I blew an eighty-seat majority,
Used up the trust of Vallance and Chris Whitty.
I have been a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: mine is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
[Voice from behind curtain]
You know, I haven’t actually resigned yet.