A Moment of Madness

david miliband on a plane with a stegosaurus

for Jeremy Wordsworth

So listen
On one hand there is a glove puppet
In 1:10 scale
Of David Miliband
MP for South Shields
Former Foreign Secretary
Hamstrung with streamers of confetti
Wrapped in second best suit
Crimson tie knotted in single Windsor
Briefs bulging from stitched pocket

And on the other hand
A stegosaurus
This puppet envelops the arm
Spattered in dull green scales
Of imagination
Back proudly adorned with plates, sails
Scaly mouth flapping open
With lolling prehistoric tongue
Rolling contours culminate in barbed tail
At elbow

Miliband glides through security
Not a hiss from scanning portal
And passport control
False starts as they try to place him
Nothing to declare
Red suitcase accompanies the travellator
Business class
Impatient in lobby
Waiting for the doors

Stegosaurus has a tougher journey
His passport instantly unorthodox
Stamps from rogue states show up
And other unstable locations
But its summer time
And the frisking is easy
No base metals or rogue liquids
to declare
Security personnel brush sweat from brows
And dreaming of bitter lemon on the balcony
Wave him on through
An aisle seat

Departure lounge
Miliband idly scours the share prices
In complimentary Times
Stegosaurus gives the decorative shrubs
A tentative nibble
And they are called to board

In 1a
Miliband peruses the blue skinned blockbuster on offer
Its never too early for champagne
Cabin crew argue
As nineteen e to g
Object to their travelling companion
Forthright disgust
And luggage charges raised
Let alone the indignity
Of travelling alongside
This great prehistoric beast
Executive decisions
And the senior staff
Trolleys edged into alcoves
And the stegosaurus lumbers
To the front of the plane

Is removed from its foundation
And from nowhere
Two bales of hay emerge
And split and spread
On cabin floor
Miliband, eyes to the front
Re-reads the Times editorial
With a minor scowl
Fumbles for a pen
Wishes he could remember how to do cryptic crosswords
Stegosaurus gazes at the opulent surroundings
And licks idly at plastic champagne flute

Permission to take off
The runway, sunbaked and tarmacked
Is taxied onto
The pilot
(whose name is Jeremy)
Makes last seatbelt reminders
(the stegosaurus shrugs)
The throttle is pulled
And into the air
Our heroes soar

(time passes)

Miliband’s Times is folded into quarters
And jammed into the edge of the seat
Blackberry toyed with half-heartedly in lap
Flute spilled
Stegosaurus laps airline champagne from floor
And makes a chirping, whistling sound
Miliband’s eyes do not leave his mobile device
Jeremy checks altimeter
Scanning the dials, and ploughs on
Back in economy
Stewardesses collect the final trays
Pulling blinds down
In simalcra of twilight
Passengers gouge at arrow words
Scrape at personal entertainment systems
And succumb to ersatz night

By mid-atlantic, the plane is asleep
Families slumped head to head in seats
Cabin crew spoon in the micro-kitchen
Wakeful Jeremy nudges the controls
And taps the auto-pilot
For want of something to do

In business class
Miliband grinds impatient foot on deep carpet
And gently turns his head
Stegosaurus blinks and catches his eye
Miliband starts
Attempts to fish his paper from footwell
The stegosaurus holds his gaze
Flustered, Miliband awkwardly fumbles for phone
But can’t tear his eyes from dinosaur companion
He scans the aisles
Bereft, devoid of interruption
Did the dinosaur just wink at him?
Disgraceful, really
Allowing dinosaurs on planes
This would never have happened under the previous government

The stegosaurus lazily gets to his feet
Turns, somehow
In the narrow plane corridor
And like a magician’s trick
Disappears entirely into the business class facilities
With a languid flick of his tail
As parting gesture

Without really thinking what he’s doing
Miliband gets up
Another cautious glance around
The papers would have a field day with this one
And slowly, casually
Approaches the toilet door

Inside, the stegosaurus is expecting him
To Miliband, it is an optical illusion
From childhood
But somehow the dinosaur has encased himself in cubicle
Leaving plenty of room
For at least one more
Still without really considering what’s happening
Caught up in a moment of madness
He steps inside

The plane toilet door
Awkwardly slides shut
And the legend
Suit gradually descends to the floor
And he succumbs
To delicate scaly caresses
A mile above the ocean

(time passes)

Permission to land
Beckoned into Miami with table tennis bats
Miliband fastens his seatbelt
And re-applies tie
Studiously avoiding stegosaurus
Who sleepily reclines on the hay
Blinking those beautiful eyes

Miliband is first off the plane
Spots his name on a chunk of whiteboard
And lurching out of a coffee bar
Is Whitacker
That bastard from the Sunday Express
Shuddering limp handshake
In the hope of something meaty
As Miliband disengages
And bolts for chauffer
He considers just telling him
For a laugh
You couldn’t make it up
But he defers
And with a few non-committal words
On the austerity budget
They part company

Out of the corner of his eye
He sees stegosaurus
Accompanied by Jeremy the pilot
Waiting at baggage reclaim
And with a last jolt
Of a longing he’ll never really understand
He leaves the airport
And steps into the awaiting car


So sometimes, someone has an idea that is so good you wish you had done it yourself. This was the case for the remarkable Jeremy Wordsworth and his stories of romance between members of the British establishment and dinosaurs. This was so clearly my cup of tea that a lot of people thought I had written them myself. But alas, I do not have the keen ability for writing filth that Jeremy posesses, and my version is a lot tamer.

I wrote this for Jeremy after reading his account of David Miliband joining the mile high club with a stegosaurus, but he never replied. The title, which I believe is also the title of his Michael Gove short story, comes from poor Ron Davies and his adventure on Hampstead Heath.

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One Response to A Moment of Madness

  1. Professor Elemental says:

    I love everything you say and quite possibly, do. That was epic.

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