Category Archives: Humour

The comings and goings of puny political plagiarism

“The age of the internet, where everything is connected, has made plagiarism both easier to commit and more difficult to hide”, wrote Jeremy Gavron in The Guardian a couple of years ago, though he went on to acknowledge that what appears to be plagiaristic can sometimes be explained by simple coincidence.

The most memorable phrase in ex-Chancellor Sajid Javid‘s otherwise fairly flat resignation speech on February 26th was undoubtedly “comings and goings”. The word “comings” was clearly a sideswipe at Prime Minister Boris Johnson‘s seemingly utter reliance on his SpAd (the increasingly popular contraction of “Special Adviser”), Dominic Cummings, in matters of both governmental policy and personnel. Cummings it was, so the rumour mill had had it, who enjoined the PM to insist Javid allow his own team of advisers at the Treasury to be replaced by a team specified by No. 10.

Javid confirmed that to be the case and also that he was having none of it …

His “Cummings and goings” pun was greeted with loud hilarity in the House.

And it was also lauded on Twitter, drawing scores of hashtag quotes.

Now, other than writing this piece, I don’t want to make a Big Thing about this. But I couldn’t help noticing that a reply I’d made to a tweet by political eminence gris Andrew Neil – albeit some nine days before Javid’s punny pot-shot – bore more than a passing resemblance to his hilarity-inducing witticism.

It may just have been a case of “great minds”. Perhaps I should take it as a compliment. Or maybe I should give it the full whistleblower and expose his pun-pinching to the wider world?

I’ll never know the truth of the matter. But Gavron was certainly right. Social media offer rich pickings of royalty-free material for those seeking a telling phrase, an unusual take on a topic or a particularly bon mot.

Nowhere more so than in the field of politics, where words undoubtedly exert more influence over the comings and goings of our daily lives than in any other field.


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At breakfast
it didn’t seem quite right to comment on what
had actually gone on in my room last night, what
with Ann and Jeffrey so serious and asking what
we usually did with our afternoons and Paul and what
was that girl’s name laughing at the news of the world somewhat
childishly so I wondered if they’d guessed and what
would happen if I just came right out with it.

At lunch
after the usual shopping and the usual chaos about
who was supposed to be going out about
three but wouldn’t make it again I thought about
that unusual happening and how it came about
and considered being quite frank and open about
it and even said in a slightly roundabout
way that we’d quite enjoyed our evening.

At dinner
timing it perfectly I thought determined to let them know
what an event had happened under our roof, know
as it were, how near they were to the big event, and I know
they usually like to be kept informed, I don’t quite know
how but I said it right out: told them that now I know
at least one person who can beat me at chess; and I don’t know
why but they were still laughing to themselves

At supper.



May 1969



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Filed under Humour, My poems, Poetry