“Ziggy appears to be in surprisingly ebullient mood tonight,” thought Zara as he perused his friend’s countenance over the top of his pint glass. This was in sharp contrast to his own mood which had been consistently quite disconsolate since the recent deterioration in his financial situation, which meant he had to choose between paying the ULEZ and congestion charges on his Maserati or standing his round at the bar. Thus it was that Zara (aka Zarathustra, the postmodern-day prophet of renown) and Ziggy were ensconced in their local, making their second round of drinks last as long as possible, rather than making merry in one of the more exotic locations they would normally have headed to.
Surely there must have been some favourable circumstance in Ziggy’s life which was occasioning his good humour? Zara could hold his peace no longer and blurted out the question which had been burning like a hot coal in his mouth all evening: “So what do you think about the latest developments with Partygate?”
“Oh, have there been some new developments?” came back the nonchalant reply. This was not what Zara had wanted or expected. What planet was his friend living on? “It is on the front page of every newspaper,” he offered by way of clarification.
At this point Ziggy had to resist querying whether by that he meant the Daily Mirror, which he knew to be the only paper whose front page Zara ever perused. “Oh, I guess I must have overlooked it then,” he offered accommodatingly. “Have they discovered another cake?” he continued rather less generously.
Zara took this acknowledgement of ignorance as a cue to launch his latest diatribe: “Well, if they haven’t just gone and published a photo of Boris holding up a glass of what is clearly red wine.”
“Oh, like that one of the other guy drinking beer in Durham?”
Treating this as the red herring it was obviously intended to be, Zara continued: “And what is more the Metropolitan Police are now under pressure from the London Mayor to explain why Boris wasn’t fined for such behaviour when other people were.”
“You mean again that other…”
But this time Zara was quick to head him off. “Questions need to be asked about the quality of leadership in the Met.”
“But wasn’t the leader replaced recently?” For one who evinced little interest in such matters, Ziggy seemed surprisingly well informed. “And wasn’t it the London Mayor who did the replacing, so shouldn’t he take some responsibility here?”
Although he had solicited his opinion, Zara found himself increasingly irritated by the direction his friend seemed to keep steering the conversation. “That is why he is asking the questions he is, and his requests need to be respected.”
“So the police’s response is nothing to do with the Mayor’s Asian ethnicity then?”
“What? No, nothing at all.”
“Nor the fact he is a Muslim?”
“And why would that explain anything?”
“Well it might be a reason for his being so angry about Boris drinking alcohol…”
“Look, I drink alcohol and I’m plenty angry about Boris. It is irrelevant.”
At this, Ziggy looked slightly nonplussed. “Oh, I thought you always said racial prejudice and Islamophobia were major factors shaping the police’s agenda.”
Zara was forced once more onto the back foot. “Yes, that is of course true, but not in this case, which is clearly about the police pandering to pressure from the rich and powerful.”
“Ah, I see what you are saying now.” Finally, thought Zara, some progress! “You mean like the way your dad got us off the hook when you were caught speeding last month, by making a generous donation to the Police Social Club?”
At this point Zara found it difficult to suppress his rage. Was his friend really so obtuse that he was simply incapable of seeing the obvious? “Of course there was no relationship between these two events! The police were very clear that they were dropping the charge because the speed gun used had not been calibrated as required. And as you always like to say, correlation does not mean causality.”
Ziggy was not quite finished yet. “Yes, and on the basis that I said it, you agree it must be…” Then he thought better of it, feeling a pang of sympathy for his friend who had clearly not been having a particularly pleasurable evening thus far. “…it must be my round,” he continued. “Let’s talk no more of causality.”
And he was as good as his word, making no mention for the whole evening either of the awkward topic of Zara’s father stopping his allowance; or the causality thereof.
Disclaimer: references to Zarathustra in the above are an allusion to the eponymous protagonist of Friedrich Nietzche’s “Also Sprach Zarathustra” and not to the Iranian religious reformer and prophet, traditionally regarded as the founder of Zoroastrianism.