According to a new biography, during his spare time David Cameron likes to exercise playing with a tennis machine he has named “the Clegger”.
Now, I’m struggling to believe this. I keep looking at the words, expecting to have misread them. I’m pawing at the concept as an existentialist kitten would to a ball of string. “Is this real? Is this actually a thing that has happened? What does it all mean? Also, I want milk.”
Obviously, we have to cynically factor in the consideration that whoever wrote ‘Cameron: Practically a Conservative’, might have added this flourish in a moment of artistic license in order to sell more copies. But when we do so, we also have to factor in the possibility that the story is almost certainly definitely true.
We also have to take into account the fact that when they say “a tennis machine”, what is very likely meant is “the Deputy Prime Minister throwing tennis balls”. You might think this seems unlikely, but given the Government’s tough austerity stance, having Nick Clegg perform an extra role (or indeed, any role at all) makes this a real possibility.
This is public spending at its most efficient. “Work harder to get the economy moving,” William Hague will demand again in a press conference this week, “Just this morning Jeremy Browne was really doing his bit in the public interest by being goalie so I could practice my penalties. We’re all in this together.” The Tory Cabinet ministers will then reveal their new, cheaper mode of transport to replace the ministerial cars: getting piggy backs off Lib Dem Cabinet ministers.
If anything, it’s probably less offensive that Cameron refers to his tennis machine as “the Clegger”, if it just means that he’s forgotten that he’s also Deputy PM, rather than it actually being a machine. At least this way he seems to have some respect for him as a human being. Enough to give him a nickname. Imagine how awful it would be if he was actually such a horrible person that he would refer to a a bit of machinery as though it was his Coalition partner performing a subservient task for his amusement. Just think what that would say about the power balance in their relationship, if, when Nick Clegg wasn’t around, David Cameron and all his chums pretended that a machine whose sole function it is to fire out tennis balls was him instead.
There they would be, taking it in turn to play with the Clegger, laughing all the time at the notion that he was their political equal. They’d pretend each yellow orb was a Lib Dem manifesto pledge Clegg was lobbing at them, that they would feign to consider and then cast away dismissively with a right forehand volley.
Let us be thankful then, that the Clegger is probably Nick Clegg. Standing in David Cameron’s tennis court, wearing shorts, tossing ball after ball to meet Cameron’s specifications, just happy he isn’t being demeaned.