Nassau. The professor has just finished breakfast, a concoction of esoteric super-foods prepared to his own recipe. The priceless porcelain, the antique Nubian silver-ware, and the Chinese silk napkin have been cleared away. The professor stares past the open French windows to the views of the harbour below. On his desk the scattered newspapers bear signs of his critical inspection, with savage under-linings in red pencil. The cool of his study, the subdued panelling of rare tropical hardwoods, and the sympathetic spirituality of the surrounding objets d'art are clearly insufficient to soothe the professor's mood, as a frown of disapproval mars his noble brow. Imperiously he beckons a waiting stenographer to enter his presence so the dictation of the day's blog may commence...
Censorious waggles of the den Sushing head met the news this morning that Tony Blair was to leave the post of Peace Envoy owing to his complete failure to achieve any notable positive results in the eight years since he was appointed to it. It was not the failure of Blair himself which drew my disapproval, you understand, but the failure of judgement that led to his selection for the role. In 2007, when the rumours of his impending appointment began to circulate, I wrote in the sternest possible tones to those responsible. Blair was hopelessly ill-equipped for the role they had in mind, and I told them so. Yes yes yes, they agreed, but it was now out of their hands. Certain promises had been made. Monies had changed hands. In short, it was too late for aught but hope that the best might be made of a bad job.
And a truly forlorn hope too. It should have been obvious to any idiot that Blair was not up to the job of brokering peace in the middle-east. Consider the ideal candidate for the role. A figure of vast intellect, of unplumbed reserves of patience, of granite integrity, a figure universally revered and respected as an impartial and objective judge of man's affairs, fluent in all languages, a trusted mentor to the world's leaders, charismatic, imperturbable, stern and gentle in equal measure...
(Connoisseurs of literary humour the world over: You can see where he's going with this one. Putting himself up for the job any minute now, I'll bet.)
Eight years ago I would have taken the call. Today I am not so sure. The comforts of a long-overdue retirement beckon, and there is still much to be done in my other fields of endeavour.
The professor waves away the stenographer, who departs with nods of deference. He searches among the scattered newspapers for one that demands special attention. The Racing Post. "Blair's the Boy" 11:1 for the 2.30 at Wincanton.
(Connoisseurs of literary humour the world over: Sure, you never know what to expect. Isn't that just like him.)