Councillor – sorry, Dame Ellen Morton has circulated a letter to her local political circle in Helensburgh which many appear to have forwarded on their personal email lists and which an anonymous kind soul has sent on to us.
It relates to the arrangements for a local farewell party for Provost Billy Petrie who is retiring from formal politics at the coming local authority election on 3rd May 2012.
It rewards reading.
‘As we all know Billy goes in May (maybe some of the rest of us do too but just don’t know it yet!) Again as you know, there is a formal Council do to mark the event. However a few folk in the town mentioned that a town event for any ordinary folk would be nice – I think you are all already aware of the idea as I have mentioned it in various places as has Gary and Danny and, I think, some of the rest of us.
‘However I have finally got my act in gear and got the tickets!
‘The party is on Saturday 28th April at 7 for 7.30 in the Osprey suite of the Commodore; a drink and light buffet; cost £12.50 – no freebies! (apart from Billy’s family obviously). If any of you want tickets can you let me know – I will bring them to the Area Committee on Tuesday. Also can you pass the word round anyone you think would be interested. Gordon & I and Gary & Janet are going; Alan Reid is coming (paying) as is my Aileen and Fiona Howard. ‘So could any of you who has contacts with any other candidates please try to ensure they know about it. I have kept this away from Council premises so we don’t invoke the dreaded purdah! I don’t want it seen as political at all so it is important (I think) that anyone who is a candidate gets the chance to know about it, even if they are then not interested. I presume Gary will let the Tory candidates know and James the SNP? Does anyone have any contact with the other independents?
‘Hope some of you are able to come. It will be nice to let our hair down before the axe falls.
Those of us mercifully ‘ordinary’ folk will find this a cheeringly entertaining insight.
We will be awestruck to know that the highlight of the event, seeing us scrabble frantically in our pockets for a spare £12.50, is the gracing of the event by the attendance of Dame Ellen herself – and with her consort.
Councillor Gary Mulvaney and his wife are graciously included as a secondary draw; and Argyll and Bute’s MP gets a postscript mention simply because he’s paying. Why is that a matter of note? Doesn’t he always?
Close on Mr Reid’s heels in the protocol is the heir apparent to the Dame – even if a handover period of some duration is fondly envisaged.
‘My Aileen’ will also be attending.
Well, wow. Try to buy an entire table for the event. Invite such friends as can be relied upon not to shame you before the great and the good.
This warm familial reference conjures the presence of Dame Ellen’s daughter, Aileen Morton, standing as a candidate in Helensburgh Central with the Dame herself, as usual, a candidate in the home county of Helensburgh and Lomond South.
Lucky Helensburgh to have the historic opportunity of voting for so shining a dynasty. Who cares about CHORD, Colquhoun Square, schools – those are just the grubby little things the ordinary folk get a bit exercised about from time to time – until they are pacified by the opportunity to spend a mere £12.50 for access to the Dame, her Consort and her inner family.
We must pity the poor Princess Royal who, because of ‘the dreaded purdah’ will be deprived of the favour of an audience with the Dame on 26th April when she visits the town.
Isn’t it surprising that she hasn’t cancelled out of sheer disappointment? And isn’t it amazing that she seems prepared to make do instead with the presence of the ordinary folk – but then the view from where she stands may be somewhat different from that of the exalted climes inhabited by the Dame.
You may be surprised, as we were at first, to see that in all of this there is no mention of the persons the uneducated ordinary folk like us would have expected to be the real draw of the event – Provost Petrie and his family. They are less honoured guests than the lucky recipients of freebies.
It is clear that, in her generous energy to make the event a success, the Dame has recognised that no will come just to see and talk to this poor sap.
So, in the infinite goodness of her selfless heart, the Dame is headlining the big guns in her attempt to talk up the event’s real attractions.
Her hope is that her political satellites will earn their place around her skirts – and those of her attendant consort and daughter Dame-elect – on 28th April by contacting as many ordinary folk as they can still remember to form an orderly queue for tickets.
We cannot divine whether ‘the other independents’ rank below or above us ordinary folk but the phrase seems to distinguish between the ‘acceptable’ independents like Councillor Danny Kelly (who, lucky boy, gets a mention en passant as a messenger) and the ‘other’ independents – like Councillor George Freeman whose name must not be mentioned in these august circles. (Too clever by half. Gets above himself. Never doffs his cap. VOTED AGAINST US.) Definitely below the Salt.
So, serfs of Helensburgh, start now.
Get your tickets booked to make sure of your entry to the Commodore on the night. Get the Sunday shoes polished. Get the flat caps brushed down with ne’er a hair left on them. Get the funeral suits aired a few days in advance to lose the smell of mothballs. Start practising speaking proper – you’ve only got 13 days to go.
Buy a pair of white gloves so that you may proffer, germ free, a humble hand,
Keep your eyes down. It’s invasive to make eye contact – and besides you would be blinded by the divine radiance of Helensbrgh’s own regal family. Speak only when spoken to – and be grateful for the opportunity.
Oh – and how’s that curtsey? (Keep a straight back. It looks as if you’ve got a spine.)
Don’t be too intimidated. The Dame is working really hard in this letter to seem quite jolly and approachable – a tasteful scattering of exclamation marks. That’s what the ordinary folk use, isn’t it?
Forget all naughty thoughts of the Emperor’s new clothes and prepare to be truly astonished. This will be a night long talked about in the kitchens of the ordinary folk.
Don’t forget that important date on 3rd May 2012, when you can pay tribute by voting for the Dame and for ‘My Aileen’. This is when you come in to your own. The ballot box makes no difference between the ordinary person’s vote and those of the locally mighty. Be thankful.
It is evidence of that careless grace of the great that touches this regal family that the Dame’s consort is not a candidate in the third local constituency of Lomond North. Best not to be too greedy. Leave a few crumbs for the ordinary candidate.