Hugo Rifkind Hugo Rifkind

Shared Opinion | 23 August 2008

It didn’t occur to Cameron that White Van Man might be trying to pat him on the back

It didn’t occur to Cameron that White Van Man might be trying to pat him on the back

Ah, the chaos there must have been on Planet Cameron every time that Dylan Jones was due for another chat. The editor of GQ writing a book about their man. Which anecdotes to tell? Which to leave out? The tension! The half-drunk Innocent smoothies! The half-smoked Marlboro Lights! He’s not Piers Morgan, but nobody wants to drop a Clegg.

Flunkies in panic. ‘Samantha being a Goth! That’s got to go in! It’s edgy, it’s funny, it suggests you might have pulled a wild one. Grrr! And that teenage stuff about meeting Mick Jagger. Very humble, very Blair. And also, ooh I know, Dave, how about that time when that bloke in the white van tried to knock you off your bike? It’s the Broken Society, innit? Your big thing. Thugs! Hoodies! That geezer wanted you dead!’

Etc. ‘I slowed down and sort of pulled in behind a line of parked cars,’ is how the latter appears, as only one of, presumably, many thrilling bicycling stories in Jones’s Cameron on Cameron. ‘As this van drove by this hand came out and just bashed me in the back, with the aim of pushing me in front of the car. Luckily I managed to put the brakes on.’

It’s a good story. And bang on spec, too. The streetwise Tory. He gets around, green, but he knows it’s dodgy out there. It’s the Broken Society. Can he fix it? Yes he can.

The thing is, I wonder if there hasn’t been a misunderstanding. For I, too, have bicycling anecdotes. Here’s one. It was 13 years ago, and I was sluicing through Cambridge on my way to a lecture. Speeding down Silver Street, with my flares flapping and my ponytail streaming in the wind (for I used to be almost as cool as Mr Cameron’s wife), I caught sight of my friend Adam.

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