Sunday Times columnist Quentin Letts seems to be confused
between “Yorkshire icon Norah Batty” and “West Lancashire icon Rosie Cooper” in his discourse about two hours of “General” or is it Private Pike .Matt Hancock’s doggy chops staring down an internet link, brushing off questions from MPs in distant corners of the cybersphere, this virtual parliament caper is not for faint hearts.
In his usual pithy style Letts reports “on the health select committee giving us a taste of things to come with a streamed, self-isolating scrutiny session. It lasted much of the morning. Felt longer. “Order, order!” began the chairman, Jeremy Hunt (C, Surrey SW). He was sitting entirely on his own in a narrow, book-lined study at home. The screen flashed up an image of committee members in their various pods. They could have been so many amoebae in Petri dishes, pulsating in their tiny containers.
“There was a preliminary session with three medicos, among them Professor Anthony Costello of University College, London. He is one of the experts who seems to have been thrusting himself to the fore in this crisis, Let me through, please, I’m a media tart.
“Letts asks “Have you noticed how so many of them are from the London colleges? We seldom hear from academics in, say, Cambridge or Liverpool or Durham. Maybe it’s a press officer thing. Professor Costello’s shtick is a blasé pessimism, subtly superior. “We could see 40,000 deaths by the time this is over,” he said casually. It was also possible that we would have another five or six waves of the virus. After all of which he added “We’ve got to be positive.” Yes. Thank you for that.
“On to Letts’ impression of Mr Hunt, “since Charterhouse such a perfect head boy, had invited a few fellow committee chairmen to join the session. Among them was Yvette Cooper (Lab, Pontefract and Castleford), eager to find an area of disagreement with the government. She decided they had been letting foreigners into the country too lightly. Abroad was riven with disease. Aliens should be forced into quarantine. Followers of fashion may like to know that Ms Cooper has a new pair of spectacles. They are blue and could be termed “school of Marje Proops” .
But our interest lies in another Cooper also involved in this cybersphere committee. Rosie Cooper (Lab, W Lancs) peered into the screen. “Can ya hear me?” she bawled, lacking only Nora Batty’s headscarf. Yes, Rosie, pet, alas we could. She did not think much of the NHS’s mass-testing facilities in out-of-town car parks. “They might as well be on t’Moon!” roared Nora. What, does Rosie speak like that? Mr Hancock said the testing centres were “a big policy success”. Rosie later had a second go. “Am I coomin’ through?” she bellowed. “Hello?” Then her screen froze and we were left with an image of her with mouth half open, like the shark in Jaws”.
Rosie Cooper might be in touch with her lawyer on Monday? Or could she be secretly pleased to be considered in the same breath as Norah Batty? We could call Rosie’s office on Monday and ask Jess if we can speak to Norah? But I’m not risking it, not if that shark is there!