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Leveson In Wonderland....Sunday Telegraph Panto

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Leveson In Wonderland....Sunday Telegraph Panto

Post  Panda on Mon 24 Dec - 9:47

Sunday Telegraph Pantomime: Leveson In Wonderland

The Worldís First Independently Regulated Pantomine, by Oliver Pritchett

Curiouser and curiouser: Leveson in Wonderland, a Christmas pantomime

By Oliver Pritchett

7:00AM GMT 23 Dec 2012



Alice Lord Justice Leveson

A Furry Creature Robert Jay, senior counsel to the Leveson Inquiry

Nick Clegg a permanently depressed politician

The Cheshire Cat David Cameron

Related Articles

The King of Hearts Paul Hollywood, from The Great British Bake Off

The Queen of Hearts Mary Berry, the nice one from The Great

British Bake Off

The Dormouse Andrew Marr

The Bob of Diamonds a reviled banker

Clare Balding a jolly good egg

A Senior BBC Bureaucrat with no face

The Mock Turtle a tabloid editor

Angela Merkel a Very Important Person

Andrew Mitchell an irascible cyclist

The Mad Hatter George Osborne

The March Hare Boris Johnson

Uggie the dog an economics expert

ACT ONE Scene One

A Garden. Alice is seated on a bank, reading a newspaper.

Alice: (sighs) All intrusive celebrity gossip and paparazzi pictures. What is the use of a newspaper that is all intrusive celebrity gossip and paparazzi pictures?

(She dozes off. A Furry Creature scurries past carrying a huge unwieldy pile of books. He looks at his watch.)

Furry Creature: The inquiry, the inquiry. Iíll be late for the inquiryÖ.

(He runs down a hole and Alice follows him. Suddenly she finds herself falling, falling, fallingÖ)

Alice: Goodness gracious, this is most untoward. Surely there should be some guidelines or a handrail, a code of practice or a set of regulations, or at least a Warning sign printed very boldly.

(She lands at the bottom and then runs off in pursuit of the Furry Creature until she comes to the Pool of Tears in which Nick Clegg is standing, up to his waist, weeping and tearing up sheets of paper.)

Clegg: Itís not fair and itís not democratic. House of Lords Reform, proportional representation, the EU, student feesÖ Nobody ever listens to me. (He sobs.)

Alice: Iím sorry, I canít stand around listening to you all day. (She rushes off after the Furry Creature and grabs him by the arm.) Hang on. Kindly tell me who you are and where you are going.

Furry Creature: I am the leading counsel to the inquiry you are conducting into the culture, practices and ethics of Wonderland.

Alice: Curiouser and curiouser. I must confess I had no idea I was conducting an inquiry. Should there not be some sort of machinery to inform me of this?

Furry Creature: Hurry, weíre late.

(He runs off. Alice sees Cheshire Cat sitting on the branch of a tree, grinning.)

Alice: Would you kindly tell me in which direction I should go?

Cheshire Cat: Donít ask me, Iím only the Prime Minister. I donít have a sense of direction.

Alice: But what should I do? I am at a loss.

Cheshire Cat: Search me. I donít have any policies.

Alice: Donít you have any advice?

Cheshire Cat: When in doubt, do a U-turn.

(With that, the cat gradually disappears.)

Alice: Poor Prime Minister. All that is left of him is a fairly charming smile.

ACT ONE Scene Two

A Courtroom, presided over by the King and Queen of Hearts. The Knave of Hearts (or rather the Bob of Diamonds) is in the dock.

Queen of Hearts: The Knave of Hearts is accused of stealing some tarts.

King of Hearts: Some with a soggy bottom.

Dormouse: (in the jury, waking up) Did someone say snoggy bottom?

Queen of Hearts: Silence! Off with his fondant fancies!

Dormouse: In my defence, I have to say that I was exhausted after filming my epic eight-part History of the World for BBC OneÖ (He falls asleep again.)

Alice: (pointing at the dock) Just a minute. Thatís not the Knave of Hearts; thatís the Bob of Diamonds who had to resign as head of Barclays. Or if itís not the Bob of Diamonds, itís some other wicked banker.

Jury: Boo!

Queen of Hearts: Prisoner in the dock, whoever you are, how do you plead?

Bob of Diamonds: Wealthy, Your Majesty.

King of Hearts: We sentence you to an enormous pension.

Alice: And furthermore and likewise, those things marked Exhibit A are not tarts, they are pasties. And, since they have been stolen, it follows that they are hot pasties.

(Enter Clare Balding on horseback, carrying a microphone.)

Clare Balding: The atmosphere in this courtroom is absolutely fantastic. There is a tremendous buzz here. Will the Bob of Diamonds run away with these pasties or will the Dormouse wake up and grab the blonde, I mean grab the bronze? Letís go over now to Alice and ask, what can we expect to see in this magnificent arena today?

Alice: A lot of stuff and nonsense. Doesnít anyone here know the difference between a tart and a pasty?

Furry Creature: (opening several large volumes) Can we now turn to page 176, paragraph 19 of Nigella Lawsonís Frightfully Naughty Squishy Cakes and also, if you will bear with me, to page 513, paragraph 13 of Jamie Oliverís Blimey, Letís Knock Up a Gorgeous Pasty in Under Five Minutes, and furthermore to page 84, sub-section D6 of the evidence previously given by Nigel SlaterÖ

Clare Balding: This is absolutely incredible! The Furry Creature is now attempting to consult five very large books, all at the same time. Can he keep up this thrillingly slow pace?

Alice: I thought I was supposed to be inquiring into the conduct of the press. I thought I was meant to learn all about intrusive celebrity gossip and paparazzi photographs.

Queen of Hearts: Call the Faceless BBC Bureaucrat!

(The BBC man enters, removes his tie, then puts it on again, then removes it.)

Faceless BBC Bureaucrat: I was not aware that anything was amiss as I was too busy deciding whether to wear a tie or not. I was at no stage informed of the existence of any tarts or pasties, so it follows that I could not be aware of the fact that they had been stolen. I assumed everything was in the capable hands of Newsnight.

King of Hearts: Call the tabloid editor!

Tabloid Editor: (enters and sings)

Beautiful scoop, know what I mean?

ďBoris Johnson Kisses the Queen.Ē

Who for such stories would not stoop?

I would do anything just for a scoop,

Scoop of the evening, scandalous scoop.

I must stay in the loop

And I do it for Rupe.

Scoop of the tabloid, libellous scoop.

Clare Balding: You know it took months and months of hard training to sing as well as that.

Alice: In my opinion, if he had taken a lot more time it might have been a little more pleasant to listen to.

Queen of Hearts: Call the next witness!

(Enter Angela Merkel carrying a tray of assorted pastries.)

Angela Merkel: Because you have been so reckless with your spending and are now in debt to the tune of three billion tarts, the EU and the German people are prepared to offer you a loan of these delicious apfelkuchen. It goes without saying that you will have to agree to a number of austerity measures. (She unrolls a huge scroll.) First, there will be no more Mad Hatterís tea parties; secondly, a 30 per cent reduction in the consumption of mock turtle soup; thirdly, no oysters may be eaten, except when there is a Z in the month; fourthlyÖ

Cheshire Cat: (standing up in the jury box) I have a jolly good mind to veto that. Mad Hatterís tea parties are a great British tradition.

King of Hearts: (eating one of the apfelkuchen) Hmmmm, a good texture and the flavour of the apple comes through very nicely.

Angela Merkel: (departing) I have to go. I am attending another eurozone summit. The Greeks will riot if we donít give them an extra 30 billion baklavas.

Clare Balding: So the Germans are mounting a really, really strong challenge here in the synchronised baking event, but can this amazing crowd get behind the jam tarts and lift them over the line?

Alice: Who is the next witness?

(A figure on a bicycle enters the courtroom.)

Clare Balding: It must be Victoria Pendleton, gold medalist in the keirin. I donít know what that is, but itís madly exciting.

Alice: Stuff and nonsense. Itís the former Chief Whip.

Queen of Hearts: Do you swearÖ

Andrew Mitchell: Certainly not. I never swear.

Queen of Hearts: Very well, give your evidence.

Andrew Mitchell:

ďWill you move a little faster?Ē said the Tory to the pleb

ďYouíre a f------ nobody and Iím a big celeb.

See how eagerly the Cabinet rush off to dinner dates!

Iím really in a hurry Ė wonít you let me through the gates?

Will you, wonít you, will you, wonít you, will you let me through?

If you donít, or wonít or canít, it will be the worse for you.Ē

Alice: Are you sure this is all true, or is it more Wonderland make-believe? In any case, I think I must conduct an inquiry. Come on, little Furry Creature, letís get out of here.

Act Two Scene One

The Mad Hatterís Omnishambles

(The Mad Hatter Ė with a standard class rail ticket stuck in his top hat Ė is seated at the end of a long table next to an enormous teapot with the March Hare and the Dormouse, who is asleep. The Faceless BBC Bureaucrat is seated apart from the others and taking no interest in the proceedings. Alice enters.)

Mad Hatter: No room, no room.

Alice: Thereís plenty of room.

Mad Hatter: Youíre not allowed here without a first class ticket.

Alice: Have you got one?

Mad Hatter: Have a tax cut.

Alice: I donít see any tax cuts.

Mad Hatter: There arenít any.

Alice: Then it wasnít very civil of you to offer one.

March Hare: Olymptastic!

(Enter Clare Balding.)

Clare Balding: Did someone call my name? Ooooh, a tea party. This is an incredibly challenging event, involving great skill, hand-eye co-ordination and upper body strength. Shall I pour?

Mad Hatter: You might as well. You seem to do everything else round here.

Clare Balding: I am now going to crouch, gather and use every ounce of my strength to lift this teapot. And yes, Iíve done it! (She pours and nothing comes out.)

March Hare: May I say, beyond a peradventure, that this is simply the greatest, most splendiferous, Łber-spiffing, prodigiously ripping spectacle the world has ever seen. This is the tea party of tea parties, the Babylonian hanging garden of tea parties. In a single word, this is by far the most hunky-dory, nay scrumptious tea party I have ever taken all the credit for.

Alice: Well, I think it is the stupidest tea party I have ever been to in my life. There isnít even any tea. And no cake. It seems to me that the Mad Hatter has been reading Pippa Middletonís book, Celebrate, and following it too closely.

Mad Hatter: Have another economic recovery.

Alice: I havenít had one yet, so I donít see how I can have another.

Mad Hatter: The Dormouse is asleep again. (He and the March Hare beat him about the head and stuff him into the teapot.)

Dormouse: I must say that making my important television programme over two years, with two dozen countries and the blur of airports and hundreds of thousands of words, has brought me to a state of exhaustion. (He falls asleep again.)

(The Cheshire Cat enters and approaches the table.)

Cheshire Cat: Excuse me, (to the March Hare) but you are sitting in my place.

March Hare: Oh no, just because I am hugely popular and the British regard me as the best thing since Motherís jolly old Pride, and just because I singlehandedly organised a fantastic Olympic Games, and just because London Underground works quite often and Iím jolly good on the box and I can out-sprint Usain Bolt doesnít mean I have the slightest ambition to take your place. Why donít you go and sit somewhere else?

(The Mad Hatter takes out a huge pocket watch and looks at it.)

Mad Hatter: Still no sign of an end to the recession. I told you quantitative easing wouldnít suit the works.

March Hare: It was the best quantitative easing.

Mad Hatter: Now I have recruited a brilliant new Governor of the Bank of England, we need a new economics genius, the best brain available, to get the economy moving again.

(Enter Uggie the dog, walking on hind legs.)

March Hare: Aha! The best brains available! A renowned international figure! Uggie is the answer to our prayers.

Alice: (to the BBC Bureaucrat With No Face) You are a very senior person. What are you going to do about all this? We have a dog in charge of the economy, a grinning cat for a prime minister and a tea party with no tea and no cake.

Faceless BBC Bureaucrat: There may have been rumours of an omnishambles, but they never reached my ears. Nobody said anything to my face Ė which I have not got. As far as I can tell, this situation is normal. By the way, what do you think? Tie or no tie?

Alice: I am going to conduct an inquiry. Iím going to conduct an inquiry into the serious lack of inquiries and into the practices and ethics of tea parties. Then I will conduct an inquiry into why the first two inquiries were ignored.

(The Mad Hatter, the March Hare and the Dormouse stuff Alice into the teapot.)

Clare Balding: Hush, everybody! Mrs Merkel is going to recite a lovely poem.

Angela Merkel:

You are broke Euro country, the German said,

And in debt right up to your eyes,

And yet you continue to get into the red,

Do you think, in your state, this is wise?

Mad Hatter: Donít worry, Angela. Everything is going to be OK. My economics expert Uggie will now deliver his five-year forecast. Take it away, Uggie!

(Uggie throws back his head and howls piteously.)


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