Dave & Nick

It was an audacious, very public marriage arranged despite angry protests from the two warring, rival tribes who disowned it even before the vows had been taken.
It will never last, mumbled the doomsayers. How dare they betray us like this, shouted the exasperated tribal elders as they helplessly watched the amorous couple dance and flirt with each other. However, the couple was oblivious to all complaints… dizzy with the romance of finding each other. “Oh Dave, you were here all along, and I did not know how much you cared for me”, sighed the young and beautiful Nick. Handsome Dave stood back and gazed longingly at Nick. “Believe me, you will be safe in my strong arms”, he said, “I may even teach you to jog to Westminster and hug hoodies”. His firm voice and determined manner swayed the ambivalent Nick. He knew he had, at last, found true love. With a dismissive gesture to their annoyed critics, Nick and Dave stepped up to the wedding altar.
So while the orchestra plays and the story of Dave and Nick is watched entranced by the British public, there are many befuddled sceptics who simply cannot believe that in this day and age, arranged marriages can lead to lasting love. It is truly a historical moment — and when David Cameron, UK’s new and young Prime Minister, did the unthinkable and signed up a five-year partnership with the equally young leader of the Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg, he knew it would lead to both criticism and acclaim. But now that he and Nick are in a relationship, they also know they will have to make it work, or else their tribes will destroy them. They will have to write their own marriage manuals and make sure they abide by the rules.
Not only for the tribes of the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, even for the media, who had quite openly supported different sides, it was shocking when the election result did not go according to plan. The post-election period has been equally tense, as no one knew which way the much-wooed Mr Clegg would dispense with his affections, and his 57 members of Parliament. It became an awkward threesome for a while — with the rejected lover Gordon Brown trying to wreck the budding affection between Nick and Dave. Never has there been a better moment for the Liberal Democrats, as they were catapulted into the limelight. But a coalition of the two opponents was the last thing anyone wanted.
While the Right-wing (popularly termed the Murdoch press) media would have preferred a well entrenched, minority Conservative government, the Left-leaning papers, led by the Guardian, urged Mr Clegg to tie up with the former Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
The arranged marriage of the two “posh boys” of the election was the last thing on their minds! But to its extreme disappointment, the Guardian found that their candidate for a Brave New Britain had done the dirty on them. After all their warm articles on Mr Clegg, Guardianistas still cannot believe that he has jumped into bed with the enemy. They are shouting about his perfidy from the rooftops, much like parents do when their child elopes with someone they disapprove of. Alas, now the Guardian, once the impeccable upholder of liberal values is beginning to sound more and more like the establishment. No more free love, they say, this kind of open cohabitation of erstwhile opponents will send the wrong message to the innocents and besmirch the purity of our tribe.
mr Cameron, meanwhile, is holding tight to the hand of his new love, offering him the deputy prime ministership, and at least five Cabinet berths. He is also sacrificing a dozen junior ministerial seats and has completely disarmed the enemy by being open, accepting and gracious — and by his willingness to share power. There are many in the UK who have woken up to the heady power of coalition politics and simply do not know how to respond. And, of course, there are some who are mumbling already of how deprived the Conservative Party is going to be thanks to this partnership with Mr Clegg.
Oh, they say, but how can those who are still sworn enemies at the local level, adopt a different attitude at the national level? They should have been given a quick lesson in coalition mantras by our very own finance minister Pranab Mukherjee to understand that the world is schizophrenic today. We can be everything to everyone: it only depends on the situation.
This is after all, Mr Cameron’s most impressive change of the Conservative Party. He is even calling the new political coalition “the Liberal Conservatives”. If this actually succeeds in taking over the centre ground of UK politics, it may turn out that a fleeting flirtation was actually a good foundation for a lasting marriage.

However, for many desis the real change in the UK came not through the dawn of the “new politics” but through the recent sale of Harrods by Mohammed Al Fayed, the 77-year-old eccentric Egyptian owner, to the Qatari family. Mr Al Fayed (also known as the Phoney Pharaoh) had reportedly bought Harrods for £615 million in 1985 and has just sold it for £1.5 billion.
Al Fayed, the son of a primary school teacher, had built up Harrods into a brand which attracted more than 15 million customers a year, and earned more than any other store in the world.
Once upon a time, it had been a very British store, originally founded at London’s East End by Charles Henry Harrod in 1834 — and then shifted to the current site at Knightsbridge in 1849 — with only a single room, which employed two shop assistants. It grew in stature over the decades.
The controversial Al Fayed has been in the headlines for innumerable reasons, including the fact that he has been denied a British passport for many years. However, it was the death of his son Dodi in a car crash along with Princess Diana which really opened up his longest battle: a 10-year struggle to prove that there had been a controversy to murder the couple. It was, perhaps, when he lost the case that he may have decided to move on. But he had managed to place an eight-feet high sculpture of the couple at the foot of the grand Egyptian escalator in the store. And to drive the point home he called them “Innocent Victims”.

The writer can be contacted at kishwardesai@yahoo.com

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