Telegraph there is a large picture of Ken Clarke. The Justice Secretary can be seen "watching" the Test Match at Trent Bridge. He is enjoying a post-prandial snooze; his head is back; he is yawning; a cream linen jacket struggles to cover his substantial frame and one of his suede loafers is off. A besocked foot pokes through the railing. It is a truly wonderful image.
As Max Davidson writes, we are supposed to be appalled. How is it that in these hyperactive, interconnected, perennially switched-on times, a senior government minister should be just sitting there enjoying himself at the cricket? Shouldn't he be at his desk in London, like his colleagues, finding ways to further bugger up the country? I'm with Max. I am not appalled by the picture of Ken at the cricket. The very opposite, in fact.
Eurosceptics aren't supposed to like Ken Clarke. But I can't help it. Apart from being completely wrong about one of the biggest questions of our age, the disastrous EU project, "Ken" is the absolute business. The unfazed Justice Secretary stands (or often sits) as a wonderful reprimand to the prissy, on-message posturing of the dominant political class. He likes jazz, smokes cigars and after more than 40 years in Parliament is one of the government's few true big beasts.
Consider the verve with which he executed his stylish U-turn, or adjustment of course, on so-called "secret courts" yesterday. He didn't hide, like the Chancellor who sent out a Treasury junior to do his bidding on pasties and caravans. Clarke confronted the problem head on, taking care of the media duties himself with élan. One suspects that the last budget would not have been such a shambles if Ken Clarke had been Chancellor, an appointment I proposed (to the horror of Team Cameron/Osborne) three and a half years ago.
It is said frequently that David Cameron is on the point of firing Clarke. He cannot go on for ever, of course. But I wouldn't be so sure about the Prime Minister's keenness to see the back of the old stager. Ken adds heft to the government. He is also a recognisable English type of up-market "bloke", very familiar to Cameron who was raised, it is often forgotten, in the stockbroker belt. There, Jaguar-driving men work hard, but not too hard, and think that the idea of heaven is a spot of lunch at the Test Match followed by a snooze in the shade.