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Now, how can we keep the football feel-good factor?

The country is somewhat starved of feel-good stories. So, here are some ways the government could cheer everyone up

“Contenders… ready!” What better way to decide the Tory leadership contest than to turn it into a Gladiators-style battle? Photomontage: TNE

It took 26 years longer than Frank Skinner, David Baddiel and the Lightning Seeds had wished, and like so many other things in pop culture these days, it had been gender-flipped by the time it arrived, but last Sunday at Wembley, football did, at last, come home. Even the largely football-agnostic like myself couldn’t help but be moved by the sheer depth of historical resonance that was layered through the day. It was England versus Germany at Wembley, just like 56 years previously. It went to extra time again. And just for once, it didn’t go to penalties.

While, for my admittedly paltry money, no single incident in the final matched Alessia Russo’s jaw-droppingly cheeky backheel/ nutmeg goal against Sweden in the semi-finals (a moment destined to be incorporated into every montage of “OMG sporting moments” from this day forward) for sheer sugar-rush glee, it did seem to be an ever-so-slightly happier England that went to bed on Sunday night than had got up that morning.

I am sure that this has not gone unnoticed in the increasingly chaotic halls of Westminster.

Given that much of the country has been on fire for the last month, and is spiralling into the kind of economic meltdown that will make Weimar Germany look like Boom Time by comparison, one would imagine that this sudden uptick in the national mood will be seized upon eagerly by just whatever it is we have that passes for a government right now.

Since the country is currently somewhat starved of feel-good stories (and isn’t even exactly swimming in feel mediocre stories), here are Some More Things The Government Could Do To Cheer Everyone Up…


It’s widely accepted, even among believers, that December 25 is an entirely arbitrary date on which to celebrate the birth of Jesus. In all likelihood, the holiday was plonked down in late December in order to absorb the earlier Pagan festival of Saturnalia and other assorted winter solstice knees-ups.

So there would be nothing inherently theologically problematic in shifting it back a few weeks, say, from the winter solstice to the autumn equinox, which by happy coincidence is coming up in seven weeks’ time on September 23.

Could people be persuaded to celebrate Christmas three months early? Well, if all goes according to schedule, by late September we should have just anointed a new prime minister, and unless the polls are mistaken, it’s going to be Liz Truss, so a lot of people in Britain are going to be in the mood for a good stiff drink.

It’s also probably not a bad idea to bring Christmas forward to September this year, given that in October there will be a massive spike in energy bills and we will all be paying £600 a month just to switch our normal lights on…


Here’s a way to put a smile on the face of the nation AND get the people engaged with politics – settle the Tory leadership in the manner of a Saturday night ITV game show. But not the X Factor or Britain’s Got Talent – instead, revive Gladiators!

Why watch votes being announced by Ant and Dec, trying vainly to inject tension into proceedings by…





words, when you can watch Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss smash each other in the face with huge cotton buds?


Given that there are already more food banks in the UK than branches of McDonald’s, and that some local authorities are planning on opening “warm banks” this winter – centrally heated public spaces wherein those too fuel poverty-stricken to switch on their own boilers may huddle for survival this winter (NB THIS BIT IS NOT A JOKE), the logical next step would seem to be to raid the NHS’s remaining stocks of morphine, augment it with whatever seized heroin stashes can be found in police evidence rooms, and open Smack Banks on every high street.

Say what you like about heroin, once you’ve got a decent habit on the go it’s pretty difficult to get too worked up about anything else. And if the stuff is being handed out gratis, you REALLY don’t have any worries any more. Just think of them as a modern take on the old 19th-century opium dens. Quite nostalgic, really.


Oh come on, now you’re just being ridiculous.


Am I the only person
To notice or to care
That it’s been a month since Boris “quit”
But Boris is still there?
The country slides yet further
Into turmoil and despair
He was “forced out in disgrace” and yet
Boris is still there.
I suspect he isn’t planning
On going anywhere
He’ll cling on as long as we allow
Boris to be there

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