Thursday, February 28, 2013

Bacon sandwiches are loud

Well, they are, aren't they? Cucumber sandwiches tell you to be quiet and behave, that you're in polite company and it's business, they're asking if you've polished your shoes and they're warning you not to drink too much. Bacon sandwiches are much better, they're all about slamming a mug of tea on the table, they're saying ravenous and parched and that you've worked for these.

Here's the thing. There is a way to see this thought, the whole bacon-sandwiches-are-loud bit, as poetic. I understand, it's a reach. You're a generous soul but even you would need to really like me, probably for us to be related closely and very definitely for me to have recently loaned you an awful lot of money, but it could happen, you could say this, it is possible.

Obviously I'm only saying this to you while we're chatting, I wouldn't go saying it in public. And I recognise completely that it isn't full-on poetic poetry as I am unfortunately not at home to Mr Rhyme and it remains true that Ms Meter won't take my calls.

It's also not poetry up there with, oh, say, Emily Dickinson. I'd quote 'hope is the thing with feathers' to you now but I would weep.



Something in my eye.

It's fine.

It's fine.

Gone now.

I am obsessed with words and I've long been conscious that this ought to mean obsessed with poetry: there is no stronger use of text, I think. Instead, I'm rather scared of it and I come a long way around via incessant noodling and now a bath in a poetry workshop.

I've talked to you about the noodling before. I get all hung up on writers who use the wrong words and yet in doing so create something better, richer than the strictly accurate or grammatically correct lines would. Dar Williams' "I am the others", for instance, or the peculiar tale of how Suzanne Vega and I collaborated on a song lyric without her knowing it. (Mondegreen with envy.)

She still doesn't have a clue about this and let's keep it that way. If she came up to us now and overheard, if I went into shuffling my feet and trying to smile weakly, I'd be stumbling off into how she's written this incredible ouevre that I love and admire and cherish but that I've also spent twenty years or more thinking about one word that isn't in it.

That's being seriously obsessed with words. Quick aside? BBC 7, as BBC Radio 4 Extra once was, long ago did a series of straight poetry readings: just one poem after another, no big embellishments, no introductions, just poem after poem. It was quite mesmerising and I realised during one episode that some of the poems I was hearing were actually Suzanne Vega lyrics. Just recited instead of sung. And they worked. They worked marvellously. Switch off the music in your head, give yourself up to the text, and you heard a new rhythm, a new power in the undertow.

I write prose and fiction and drama for a living but I obsess about poetry like a sports fan. It's been this thing that I cheer and that maybe I know I could do better than that, come on ref, you're blind, Ee Aye Addio, skin him, skin him. But I've never played.

Not quite true. I wrote a song lyric in a script once and it killed the script, but it was a lyric.

A friend, Laura Cousins – you'd like her, I must introduce you – once challenged me to write a song after seeing something in my twitter style that doesn't exist. I failed. Officially we're still talking, but we started it eight thousand years ago now so our first album may be a ways off just yet.

But a few months ago I was interviewed on BBC Radio WM by Charlie Jordan. And around the same time I met Laura Yates. And kind of around the same time ish, I met Gary Longden. These are three people deeply involved in poetry in the West Midlands: all these years I've been living on the M1 to London, this is the kind of people I've been missing out on both in Birmingham and in London.

Laura Yates sent me a Facebook invitation to a poetry event. I scan-read it on the run and saw that she was organising it, that Gary and Charlie were (I thought) performing at it, and of course I fancied that. I've seen Gary perform, I've not heard Charlie's poetry but I've heard her perform on radio, I'm there. Except it's not them performing, it's them running a poetry workshop.

I must've known this before I signed up but there was this long period where consciously I knew what I was getting into but unconsciously I was still thinking it was these fine folk performing a show. So I didn't get the tight-throat worry until a few days before. I checked but nobody close enough to me had died, my hair was untidy and needed a cut but it was unquestionably already washed, I had to go.

I did not ask them to be gentle with me.

I did not.

Stop it.

Anyway, by odd, random coincidence, they were gentle with me.

Was it fifteen people? I'm not sure now, I just saw them at first as this wall of people who were at the very least experienced poets if they weren't also professional, if they weren't already making their living from poetry. I put away a verse I'd been working on about a young man from Nantucket and listened.

Alan Plater said once that poets write about themselves, dramatists write about everybody else. I was conscious during the workshop that I probably belong heart and soul to drama, then, as I find it incredibly hard and worthless to focus on myself and what I'm seeing, what I'm feeling, in order to write something that can convey anything to anyone else. I don't really care about me, it's like I know all about me, I was there at the time, I saw me do it, whereas, come on, you're new, I don't know what you've been doing, you're much more interesting.

Now, I do write a blog, I'm obviously not shy about expressing myself, but I'll say it again: I write to you, I don't go around trying to write to the world. And these poets were instead finding immensely personal thoughts that came from far within themselves yet somehow also chimed universally.

I say somehow but the how that some of them did was work and thought and talent and skill. It was so impressive that you would long for them to all be bastards.

They let me down there.

Over lunch, bacon from a nearby cafĂ© called to a few of us. At first, I'd say that these poets were quiet and reserved, I'd say that the bacon sandwiches were noticeably louder, but poetry and food and amazingly cold weather brought us together into a right huddle of nattering and sharing. I liked being with them, I liked visiting this world where people are as obsessed with words as I am but are actually doing something with their obsession. It's a place where I feel like a tourist but the natives were so friendly I noodled about buying a timeshare there one day.

Back at the workshop, Charlie was particularly encouraging about my now deeply personal Nantucket poem. Laura Yates has since half-encouraged, half-goaded and all-challenged me to write more. (You're wanted too, you're not getting out of this: have a look at Write Down, Speak Up on Facebook.)

And because of them, because of the workshop, I've spent the last week thinking and thinking and obsessing. I have a poem. I have an actual poem.

Well, I say an actual poem. For once I will claim without any fear of disagreement that it has the finest rhyme I have ever done. Because so far it's one line. There is nothing to rhyme with it yet.

It's also currently three words long.

I do believe that it can take a week to write three words. I do believe that words can take that work, that they can be worth that work, that three words can be stronger than a thousand.

But unfortunately what I'm supposed to be doing this week is writing a book and my target was 10,000 words.

So, excuse me, it's 5am on Friday morning and I have to go write 9,997 words really, really, really quickly.

Well. I might get breakfast first. You know what I want to eat now, don't you?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Strange Encounters of the Third Kind

Last Sunday I spoke at Birmingham’s Tell Me on a Sunday storytelling event at the Ikon Gallery. Eight speakers, 120-odd in the audience and Cat Weatherill specifying only that we had to tell a story, that it had to be a true one, and that it had to be a true story about a Strange Encounter.

I had such a good night. I wish you’d been there. Well, I do now: I was so nervous before it that I specifically wished you wouldn’t. But now it’s done and it went so well, I’m burning to tell you my tale.

Are you sitting down? Do you have a biscuit?

William Gallagher speaking at Tell Me on a Sunday, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham
Photo by Joanne Penn, Writing West Midlands


I need to tell you about a Strange Encounter... of the Third Kind. My true story has aliens in it. It’s the story of a night that has stayed with me – well, it would, wouldn’t it? It has aliens in it.

I was 16 years old in 1981. I don’t think that when you’re 16 you actually make choices but it’s that time in your life when choices come together so if you’re going to be a sporting person, you are, you will be then. If you’re going to go Goth, there’s no better time. In 1981, there weren’t a lot of choices. I rejected sport, rejected Goth, considered New Romantic. What I went for, what I chose to be was... a fan of science fiction.

It wasn’t the most fashionable thing at the time.

But what we had here in 1981, we had the Birmingham Science Fiction Group. Actually, it’s still running. It’s big now, websites, conventions I think, and even when I was there it had been going ten years and it was very serious, very respectable. And it used to have meetings in the Ivy Bush pub on Hagley Road.

Now, there’s one thing you have to allow me some licence with. I am a journalist and I have got to be accurate but I’ve not been back in that pub since this night and while I promise you this is a true story, the one thing I can’t quite hold in my head is the geography of this pub. It’s a small corner one, I remember it feeling bigger on the inside. I just can’t remember and if you know that it’s smaller than I make it sound, just keep in mind that to a 16-year-old it was very daunting.

A black, icy-cold winter’s evening. Stepping into the very warm, very busy pub. So many people. All sitting in groups. And I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me until then but I had no idea what anybody from the Birmingham Science Fiction Group looked like. You wouldn’t. No websites, no Google image search. I think I’d written them a letter. Maybe they’d written back. Maybe I phoned one of them. But all I knew was the time and the pub.

This is one specific lesson I learnt that night: if you don’t know something, ask. I realise that sounds obvious, but an awful lot of men never learn it.

So I went right up to the nearest table. I was so young, I can feel the nervousness, but, really, what were they going to do?

“Excuse me," I said. "Are you the Birmingham Science Fiction Group?”

They raised their glasses to me and as one said “Sod off, geek.”


Next table.

And this one, thank god, this one said “Yes”.

They budged up too, eight men at this table squeezed me on at the end. I can see every face to this day. They seemed so old. Looking at them now, closing my eyes and going round that table, I know there was nobody there over 19.

But they seemed so old, it seemed so serious and big. The world is a very different place now but then, 1981, being in a pub felt very adult. I’m in a pub meeting and I feel very big. Also worried that I’ll have to buy a round when I haven’t much money.

Lenny was talking. He wasn’t like a leader of the group but he was in the middle of telling them all a story.

No, actually, that’s the wrong word. He wasn’t telling them science fiction, he wasn’t telling them fiction at all. He was recounting something that actually happened to him the night before.

The night before. When he met aliens.

You were wondering when the aliens would come in to this. In 1981, I was wondering why aliens came into this.

But all these people, all these old men, whatever Lenny had said to them before I got there – whatever he’d shown them, maybe – they were sold. They believed. This was real. They were leaning in really intensely. So I leant in, really intensely.

And Lenny really quickly gave me a catch-up, a Previously. The night before, he’d left work  –

– Lenny had a job! I was so impressed –

He’d left work and driven –

– Lenny had a car!

He’d left work and driven up to the top of the Clent Hills

– I wasn’t that fussed about the Clent Hills

He’d left work and driven up to the top of the Clent Hills with his girlfriend.

– wow.

And they’d gone to do something. I wasn’t really clear what. But at some point during the... er... proceedings... the Earth moved.

The Earth moved and the car shook and where it had been a pitch-black, ice-cold winter evening, suddenly it was as if it were warm daylight.

They got out of the car. And overhead, over the Clent Hills, was this shining, glowing disc. It was spinning slightly and Lenny said that as it span you could feel it somehow. Feel it running through you. It felt like alien engines working to keep that spinning disc completely still and level right there in the very bottom of Earth’s gravity well.

– Lenny knew words like gravity well. This was so real.

He and his girlfriend held hands. And after a moment, she starts tugging at him, she wants to run away. You can’t run away from this, he’s thinking, why would you leave this? He angrily shakes her hand free. But she wasn’t trying to pull him away.

She was holding on to him as something was pulling her up.

And when he let go, she started zooming up into the air.

He should have grabbed her hand.

Her waist.

Her ankle.

He should have done something. But he let his girlfriend be abducted.

And I think he deserved the fact that she had the car keys.

So he’s got no choice now, he’s got to run. Now, I don’t know if you know the Clent Hills but they’re not very steep, at the top there it’s quite a gentle long slope. But it’s not as if he’s running, it’s more as if he’s falling forward, scrabbling, tumbling and he’s going down faster and faster when – whump. There’s a fist-sized punch in the centre of his back.

It should have sent him flying. But instead it held him. Grabbed him. And began pulling him back.

He’s reaching out for branches to grab onto but this is the roadway, there are no branches.  Nothing to hold on to. He’s trying to scrabble in the dirt and all the little stones are being kicked up – until suddenly they’re not. His feet aren’t connecting with the ground at all. He’s been picked up into the air and he’s being pulled back up the hill.

As he gets back up there, tugged back to the very top of the hill, this thing, this thing that had grabbed him, wrenches his body around so that he’s facing the glowing, floating alien ship. Where a small black square opened.

Now, the next night in the pub, he’s trying to explain what that was and the best he can tell us is that it was like it was a speaker. But it wasn’t making sound, that wasn’t where the sound was coming from. Somehow the sound was coming out of him. Alien voices were coming out of him. Trying to come out of him. It was as if aliens had read all about vocal chords and the larynx but it was their first time trying to use them. Lenny said blood came out alongside the rasp of words.

Sitting in the pub, he’s gone pale, he’s started to sweat. Forget all the other groups in the Ivy Bush that night, every single person in that crowded pub was listening to Lenny. Riveted.

His hand went to his throat as he described the feeling of it being used, being taken over by alien forces.

And Lenny started to rise.

Right there in the pub, right there in front of us, he starts to rise.

And suddenly his eyes roll back in his head.

This isn’t Lenny anymore.

This was alien.

And it spoke.

It spoke.

That rasping, horrible, agonising voice.

It spoke to us.

And it said.

“William. You’re at the wrong table. The geeks are over there.”

Friday, February 15, 2013

Type casting

You've got this image of me as the rogueishly handsome, witty, athletic sort and I don't blame you, that's just the way it is. But for me, I really don't like mentally slotting anyone into a type. In fact, I don't even like to think that there are types of people.

But there are.

I used to work at Radio Times magazine and on their website. Until a couple of years ago, Radio Times was part of the BBC. And I don't know what it is but the BBC attracts an awful lot of intense young women who are always named Charlotte.

They're always very clever, very quick, tend to have good broadcasting voices, just really smart people who are very switched on and aware of their whole careers. They're also always poorly paid so they pull off a very inexpensive fashion style, making a lot out of a little. Very arty.

Clever, arty, talented. This is exactly why I pursued Angela for so long. Um. I'm starting to regret where this story is going now. If you're reading, Angela, we'll talk it through later.



There was this woman named Charlotte.

Look, she was in the Art Department at Radio Times, okay? Arty, clever, so clever. Art and talent and cleverness, very sexy. And I am a man, it helped that Charlotte looked very good.

Now, it's not like I was hoping to do something. I was very luckily married. But there are just people who you would like to like you. You feel great when someone smart likes you. And talented and sexy.

And Charlotte seemed to like me. Let's be really clear here, you know she didn't fancy me, I want you to know that I knew that. Nothing like that, stop thinking that. This is a family show.

But we met in some production meeting, shook hands, I was actually a little knocked back by her. I mean, yes, I'll say it. Beauty. Kind of a verve, a vibrance. And I can't remember what the meeting was but I went in thinking some particular thing and I came out thinking another. She'd changed my mind about something. I love that. Inexpressibly great.

So the next day, I'm in the kitchen. At this point Radio Times was in a long, modern building. Did you watch The Thick of It? That was filmed in the Radio Times offices.

Open plan, long lines. If I stood up at my desk I could see one way up through the whole magazine, I could see right into the kitchen the other way.

So the next day, I'm in the kitchen.

And she comes in.

I start telling her how much I enjoyed the meeting.

And she said it.

It's not like I was asking her out, but she acted as if I were and – this was no act, this was heartfelt – as if that would be a shudderingly upsetting concept. Please remember that this is the day after I'd first met her and the day after she'd made such an impression me. And injecting disgust into every syllable, she said: "Who are you?"

I mumbled something, I don't know what, I was very stung. Slapped, actually.

A month goes by.

We're in the same office but we haven't had another meeting, thank god, and without any effort on my part, we've just not happened to cross paths.


I'm back in the kitchen.

And she comes in.

Smiles at me.

Asks me something.

I have no idea what.

I just remember blinking.



Don't understand.

But it's better.

Except, I must've said something really stupid then because later that same week, she was coming down a corridor toward me and stepped into an office rather than meet me.

I wasn't imagining this. Really, wasn't.

Remember the meeting? And the thing I was supposed to have an opinion about? That she changed? She'd still changed my mind, she was right, I was wrong, but now I was actually having to do whatever it was. Really can't remember. Something on the website. Something big. No clue. I've forgotten the work, I just remember the people.

And the last day of me and Charlotte. I remember the last day really well.


I finish. I hit the Publish button on the website.

And I stood up. Stood up at my desk to stretch. Looked up the room. And there she was. Charlotte. It was like that Pizza Hut advert or maybe Stardust Memories when all the Good People are over there, having a great time, and you're outside it all, watching. forever separated.

And I thought, bollocks to this. I don't understand how she's making me feel like a schoolboy, but she is and it ends today. Let it go, William, forget it. Enough is enough.

I took a breath, I looked at Charlotte one last time, and then I turned my back on her.

Turned my back on her, turned my back on the Art Department, turned my back on the whole thing.

And I stood there, facing the kitchen instead.

Where Charlotte was making tea.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

The William Gallagher Method

A friend calls this ‘The William Gallagher Method’ and I have yet to forgive her. She called it that to my face and she called it that when she sent notes to someone who had missed my talk at the Birmingham PowWow LitFest last year.

Her notes state that I get up at 5am to work every day.

And she bases that claim solely on the tiny fact that I said so on stage.

But, look, I was asked what my writing schedule was and at that time I’d just finished a Doctor Who (which comes out later this month, by the way). It’d had a short deadline, I was already doing other things, I just meant that every now and again I’d had to be up that early to get this finished.

But this friend – let’s call her Anna Lawrence Pietroni and mention that she has a rather beautiful and absorbing novel available now on Amazon – what was I saying? This friend Anna wrote down my 5am lark, told people about it and, worst of all, gave it a title. And it has crippled me with guilt that the one person you would reasonably imagine would use The William Gallagher Method has been doing anything but.


Entirely because of this guilt and not at all because I’ve so much work to do, I now follow The William Gallagher Method faithfully. I get up every day at 5am and with a banana in my hand, a pint of water on my desk and a song in my headphones, I work through to 7am or maybe 8am before stopping for breakfast. I’ve been doing this for five or six weeks now and it is with the very greatest of regrets that I have to tell you that it sodding works. I write better, I write more, when I do this. For God’s sake, why? Why is my 5am writing better than when I start at 7am? Or I’m freelance, why isn’t my noon writing good enough?

There is some trickery involved.

Every weekday morning that I do get up at 5am, I put a one pound coin in a pot.

So far, so what?

That’s not the trick of it.

The trick is if I don’t get up at 5am.

You’re thinking that I don’t put a pound coin in or maybe, if you’re very cruel, that I have to take one pound coin out as a kind of punishment. You’re very harsh.

But not, as it happens, harsh enough.

If I fail to get up and be working at 5am on a weekday, I take out all of the coins I’ve ever put in. Empty that pot completely and start again from nothing.

It hasn’t happened yet.

Every weekday, the pot grows and makes the thought of giving it all up for one lie-in just harder and harder.

Do you know, I have only this very instant thought to wonder: did Anna only write down The William Gallagher Method or does she actually do it?

Sorry, that popped into my head there and distracted me. Did you ever see Up? There’s that moment when the dog thinks there’s a squirrel and its concentration is snapped to the left.

Hello. That was me, a moment ago.

So what was I saying? I get up at 5am, yeah, yeah, brutal, show off, who cares. There. That’s a kind of ‘previously on this blog entry’ description.

Here’s the thing. As you can imagine, I don’t see midnight much any more. (This kills me. Going to bed before midnight is just wrong. Wrong.) But sometimes I do. Such as Thursday last week when I nipped to London for a thing and nipped back, getting home around maybe 1am. That was a 5am to 1am working day. Fine.

But I couldn’t sleep. Time was ticking by.

And I was really tempted.

Not to put the alarm back a few hours, this had nothing to do with getting up: I was still going to get up at 5am, no question, no doubt, surprisingly little hesitation, but I was seriously tempted to stay up longer to hear about the debut of OmniFocus 2.  That was coming at 6pm Eastern Standard or 2am William Standard Time.

Notice I said the debut. Not the launch. Not the sale. Just the first unveiling of what this software will look a bit like. Not even a lot like: this was the first viewing of a software you’ve never heard of and which will be released later this year looking at least a bit like this and with these features but many more.

And, god, I was tempted. I did a blog about the original OmniFocus last year and it was surprisingly popular. I thought I was the only one who got excited about this To Do application. Or any To Do applications. My one thimble of an excuse is that I wrote about them for a Mac magazine a while ago. And I recommended OmniFocus. I said something like “First it will destroy your mind, then it will own your soul”.

If you have an iPad, just go get OmniFocus. If you have an iPhone, just have a very good think about getting OmniFocus. If you have a Mac, wait a second. (Find out about them all at the Omni Group site.)

I have and use all three and they are transformative. My wife Angela says I am lighter because of this software. And that’s despite my taking on far more work than before.

But it’s fair to say that the iPad one is gorgeously powerful and easy to use, the iPhone one is powerful enough and good to use, but the Mac one is sock-knockingly powerful yet hard to grasp. OmniFocus 2 is promised to take a lot of the gorgeousness of the iPad version and bring it back to the Mac. It’s not that there is going to be a lot of new functionality but there will be bits and it should all be easier to work with.

It is ridiculous how tempted I was to stay up to find out.

And it’s not at all ridiculous that even as I was in bed, thinking about all this, it was suddenly 5am and I had to get up.

I’m glad now that I didn’t stay up because while the event was at 2am WG Standard time, actual news from it didn’t start surfacing for a good six to eight hours afterwards. And the video of the event was released last night, exactly a week later. I've been watching for it, now I've been watching it.

But two things. First, just because I really like this: Omni Group makes a lot of software that I have no use for, things like OmniOutliner, OmniPlanner, OmniGraffle. (Every now and again I look up what in the world OmniGraffle does, then I go oh, right, and seconds later have forgotten again.) But now the company is launching a product called OmniPresence.

I don’t care what it does. I just like the name.

Here’s the other thing. I thought I was alone in this and I’m looking at you now thinking you’re looking at me like that and maybe I should’ve shut up when I still sounded all virtuous and righteous for getting up early. But when one particular feature of OmniFocus 2 for Mac was revealed at the debut, writer David Sparks was there and says on the video that it made him pee a little. And I understood. Yes.

There’s not enough time. Getting up at 5am helps, living in OmniFocus helps a lot. And do you know what it helps with most? Not the working, not the getting everything done on time, but with the relaxing afterwards. Right this moment, I know where I am with everything, I know exactly what I’ll have to attend to next and I also know that I can relax here with you, that we can talk.

Mind you, it is 5:30am and getting up this morning was especially easy since I haven't been to bed yet.

Maybe I should write about falling asleep at 5:31am.

Maybe I could’ve picked a better topic than peeing about software, but.

Anyway. Join me. Join me. And start here with the firm's news blog about OmniFocus 2 for Mac.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Breaking news: UK Government to become charity

LONDON, UK - In the greatest single transformation of the British political system since its inception, the country’s government is to become a charity run by volunteers. Current Prime Minister David Cameron announced what would previously have been called a green paper but he insists be referred to instead as a “done deal”.

“Decentralisation, devolution and empowerment are naturally part of a Conservative approach to government,” he said. “We're replacing the military with brave volunteers in the Territorial Army, we're encouraging more unpaid special constables in the police by a vigorous programme of cutting back on all forces and services. I'm personally determined to get rid of all social workers, retail staff, doctors and other scroungers who are pulling our nation down. To all the sports people who were so great at the Olympics I say thank you, done that, we don't need to fund you anymore, look at the games makers. They didn't whinge.

"This government will now become a charity. This is the natural next step in bringing power back to the people, it is the next step in securing Britain’s bright future, it is the ultimate step in our Big Society.”

Work on transitioning to volunteer charity status has reportedly already begun and the entire system will be in place by May 6, 2015. “I know that cynics will be looking for some significance in the timing of what I am calling the Great British Charity, but it is simply and only because this is a vital process and we want to help people to be ready for it, to know when it is happening. So purely to help, I have set the final switchover for the day before what would have been the next general election.

“There will be no more general elections. We know because the people have told us that general elections are a waste of time, that you can vote for the party you want but nobody wants the one that gets in. Completely inefficient system. I mean, there have been periods when we were not in power. Clearly that’s not a democratic political system working the way it should. So, from now on, nobody in the cabinet will be voted in and everyone in the cabinet will be a volunteer.

“I freely admit that mistakes have been made by the previous government. It’s time to move forward. Britain is great and what makes it great is its people so that’s who should be in charge. Now, I accept completely that this is a huge change and that it will take time to get used to. I accept that it raises questions. And of course I accept that it has never been done before and is certain to be disastrous for the country. I accept all of this but to you doubters with your evidence and your irrefutable statistical economic proof, I say "Same old, same old, tell me something I don't know."

“What I am going to do, what I promise today to each and every person in the British Isles, is that your new charity government will be formed with great care. Yes, we have to avoid women and yes, of course the British government cannot be run by people who have chosen to be gay or who happen to be black through no fault of their own.

“But these security issues, as important as they are, are already done for us. They’re already done by the boarding schools that every one of us went to. And I tell you now, if you went to a good school and you are independently wealthy enough to be able to survive in London just on MP’s expenses, you are the kind of volunteer this nation needs. You are the kind of open-minded volunteer with a diverse range of experience right the way from Eton to Harrow that our nation will get.”

Acknowledging the concerns of journalists at the announcement, Cameron concluded his speech by saying: “I vow to you, as a Conservative, that the public can be assured: there will be no change to frontline services. The Great British Charity government will continue to provide smugness, ignorant disregard for the effects of policies on anyone not actually in the cabinet and there will be no decrease in any of our periodic scandals. You can trust me on that one at least.”

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg was at the press conference, probably, and would've been saying something about how the Liberal Democrats were ready to form a coalition with the Great British Charity volunteers or something.