Perhaps sadly, I’m finding it hard to get worked up into a lather of indignation because Sally Bercow, the wife of the Speaker of the House of Commons, is appearing on Big Brother, a reality television show. All I can say is that she and it seem to be a perfect fit, both singularly lacking in intelligence, taste and dignity.
Those three deficiencies seem to mark so many of the activities of our nationally recognised and once respected figures these days. Even when a prominent figure retains a commendable modesty and decorum, chances are that his or her spouse will stride on to the stage, with self-obsessed swagger, to hog the limelight as proxy. Hence, at an altogether lower level of importance, the rise of the ‘wags’, who were initially identified with footballers but now seem to have invaded various other, non-sporting professions, in doing so generously opening up the opportunities to the other gender. ‘Wabs’, I suppose we must call them.
Sally’s husband John, it has been reported, tried to talk her out of the prank, if it may be characterized as such. “Order, order!” one imagines he shouted in vain across the dinner table. “We’re not in the bloody House now,” she may have yelled in response. “And go and fetch another bottle of wine.”
In an earlier incident, John disapproved of her posing in the Speaker’s apartment dressed in nothing but a bed sheet, with similar results.
So much for his authority as a husband.
It can only undermine his authority as the guardian of orderly conduct in the Commons. That had already suffered a blow from his habit, when striding through the chamber, of announcing his approach with the instruction, “Make way for the Speaker!” To be fair, a man who stands no more than five feet six inches in his elevated heels is probably advised to do something dramatic to make his presence felt in a crowded room.
There is probably more to come from the shameless Bercows; it has even been reported in the press that a divorce may be in the cards. That is entirely their concern.
Ours is that yet another ancient British institution has been ridiculed and demeaned.