On the beach

Nice piece of literary fantasy in his week’s Economist, which has been wondering if Gordon Brown has a future.

He decided to ring Downing Street. No, his chief of strategy told him, there had been no outbreaks of agricultural disease that might require him to convene a COBRA emergency meeting. No, they were not expecting any abnormal weather that would oblige him to rush back to London. Try to relax, prime minister, the strategist said.

He tried. He went down to the beach and made a sandcastle, carefully planting a miniature Union Jack on top of it, endeavouring not to think about the perfidy of the voters in the Glasgow East by-election and the deluded nationalism of his Scottish countrymen. Finally he rolled up his trousers and waded into the surf, looking out moodily across the grey and choppy waters. His mind flitted between love, fate, betrayal, the decline of North Sea mackerel stocks and the Icelandic cod war of 1958. For a moment, he felt at peace. He loosened his tie.