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The Blair Witch Project
From rebirthing to feng shui – the crucial evidence which suggests that britain’s first couple have gone mad. words Eamonn McCann
Eamonn McCann, 05 Sep 2003
Bertie Ahern took some stick a couple of weeks back for standing idly by as bare-fanged hoodlums armed with machetes launched a murderous assault on respected Irish snapspersons trying to record the happy scene as one of his do-lally daughters pledged to stay faithful for the rest of her life to a tuneless chancer from Westlife. Or whatever it was that so upset the Sunday newspapers.
There’s something of a pattern here. In the same week, Tony Blair was reportedly “disgusted” by some of the reporting of his own family sojourn at Sugar Hill, the Barbados mansion of Westlife precusor Sir Cliff Richard. Nevertheless, Blair did appear tanned and refreshed as he returned to London to prepare to explain to Lord Hutton why he and Alastair Campbell drove Dr. David Kelly to his death in an effort to cover up the lies they’d used to justify the mass murder of Iraqis. Perhaps, by the time this appears, he will have provided an entirely satisfactory account of the affair. We presume nothing in this famously non-judgmental column.
But back to Barbados and the hack-attack on the holidaying Blairs. The Irish media being consumed at the time with events in a once-sleepy French village, many will have missed the moment when Blair emerged glistening from the surf at a palm-fringed beach near Sugar Hill. It seems that observers of an aesthetic disposition were disturbed at the tight fit of his trunks.
The Daily Record quoted Gill King, 56: “It was hard not to stare. I think he’s just trying to get fashionable from a different angle.”
Alert as ever to the mood of a voter, Blair, 50, hit the beaches the following day with the groin area of the trunks covered with a semmit of the sort popularised some years back by Caledonian icon Rab C. Nesbitt. Ms. King’s son, Simon, 25, a banking assistant, was relieved: “It’s nice to think the PM is listening to the public’s view and hiding those horrible trunks.”
Blair, understandably, was not best pleased at distasteful tittle-tattle of this sort being fed back to Britland by journos picking up top exes for a fortnight’s frolicking in coral lagoons. Not that us professional journalists are ever carried away by such surroundings. I recall ace Sunday World picsman Liam O’Connor, on an arduous work asignment, turning languidly as he sprawled in the paradisal waters of a Haitian resort to remark, “You know what, the pint in Mulligan’s has gone to fuck.” Anyway. It’s all legit. You can tell a lot about political leaders from their holiday behaviour.
Back in the 1990s, in the first flush
of his premiership, Blair’s favourite family holiday spot was the Tuscany spread of millionaire MP Geoffrey Robinson. But the family had to find fresh freebies and patrons new when Robinson came a spectacular cropper over blind faith, blind trusts and
risible fool Peter Mandleson’s home loan. The Blairs’ then transferred
their Tuscan trade along the coast
to a 50-room renaissance villa
near San Gimignano owned by
media mogul and lawyer Prince Girolamo Strozzi.
If memory serves, the Blairs arrived in August 2000 in a convoy of armour-plated cars followed by 40 Italian secret agents, 20 police and 20 carabinieri deployed to protect them from prying proles for the duration. A few miles away, the Italian prime minister of the day was holidaying on a relative’s farm, guarded by a policeman armed with a bicycle.
Not that the Blairs had simply snuffled their snouts into the trough. It was explained on a non-attributable basis that as an alternative to paying for their holiday after the manner of the average Labour voter, they’d opted to give alms to the poor. A £3,000 donation was said to have been made to an undisclosed charity. How long a lease on a 50-room renaissance villa that would have paid for on the open market Blair believes in so passionately, we wouldn’t know. This year, the Blairs made another donation to charity. How much and to which charity is nobody’s business, the Downing Street press office has explained.
Two years ago, the Blairs were holiday guests of the dodgy Mexican government on the “Mexican Riviera” where, according to Tom Baldwin of The Times, Tony and Cherie underwent a “re-birthing experience” under the supervision of “Mayan priestess” Nancy Aguilar.
“Ms. Aguilar told the Blairs to bow and pray to the four winds as Mayan prayers were read out. Within the Temazcal, a type of ancient Mayan steam bath, herb-infused water was thrown over heated lava rocks to create a cleansing sweat and balance the Blairs’ ‘energy flow’.”
Baldwin, one of Blair’s most enthusiastic media supporters, recounted that the priestess then chanted an ancient (aren’t they all?) Mayan hymn while Tony and Cherie annointed one another’s bodies with a crushed watermelon and papaya mixture blended with local mud. Then the couple “screamed loudly to signify the pain of rebirth” while making a wish, and, in completion of the ceremony, left the Temazcal to walk hand and hand into the sea to allow the waters of the mighty ocean sluice off the mystical ungent. Blair is understood to have wished for world peace. August 2001 was the month before September 2001.
It was Cherie, apparently, and not Tony who, upon their return home, insisted on applying Feng Shui principles to Downing Street receptions (“Never serve a finger-dip in a room in which a rabbit has just died”) and the organisation of furniture. But as far as I know, Tony didn’t object. Strange that in all the ongoing analysis of his political philosophy, moral perspectives and animus against people George Bush wants taken out, no-one appears to have suggested that Blair’s behaviour could be explained by the hypothesis that after years of isolation from the lives and concerns of the plain people, he and his wife have gone mad.