Grant Shapps was born to entertain us.
Today the Guardian told us the story of Shapps posing as a ‘web guru at $3,000-a-head Las Vegas conference’ in his double life as ‘Michael Green’. They claim that Shapps said he was a ‘web marketer’ named Michael Green and ran a company charging callers £183 an hour for internet advice.
On Wednesday, the Telegraph revealed the latest chapter in the story of 9 Madryn Street, Dingle. Back in 2010, when the house – in which Ringo Starr lived for four years – was lined up for demolition, the great localiser stepped in and ‘saved’ it with a fanfare.
Quite what 9 Madryn Street had to do with the Housing Minister for the whole country is not clear. Forgive the thought but he may have been trying to court some popularity – at one stage he travelled to Liverpool to have his picture taken outside - the house was ‘a significant beacon of Beatlemania’ he said.
When the original story broke there was a rush of blood to the head in the CLG Press Office. Well it was that time of year, between Christmas and New Year, when anyone working is suffering a little and needs some light relief. So they quoted our star performer saying ‘Let It Be’ and he must have been delighted by the widespread and friendly coverage he got, a Minister so modern he has heard of the Beatles! But the challenge had been thrown down and a retaliatory Red Brick post, March of the Meanies, squeezed 8 Beatles song titles into 2 short paragraphs in amongst a couple of serious points about the contradictions of localism and the Minister’s willingness to say anything to get a headline.
This week the Telegraph alleged that the self-same Mr Shapps later ‘accidentally signed off’ approval for the house to be demolished as part of a wider decision to demolish houses in Pathfinder areas, which the Government opposed but then approved and funded. To be fair, as we scrupulously are, Shapps has since rubbished this on Twitter. The Telegraph - normally we wouldn’t dream of doubting them – says there will now be a full judicial review where no doubt more evidence will emerge.
Picking a headline for this post was really difficult. Beatles song titles offer so much scope for satire. Fixing a Hole? I should have known better? The Fool on the Hill? Bad Boy? Nowhere Man? But in the end, it had to be Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey.