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Yes, we should return the Elgin marbles – and a few other borrowed items whilst we’re at it

People view examples of the Parthenon sculptures, sometimes referred to in the UK as the Elgin Marbles, on display at the British Museum in London, Britain
The Elgin Marbles are once again the subject of dispute between the UK and Greece - Hannah McKay/Reuters

He’s tried tinkering with the tax system, banning smoking, making maths compulsory until a teenager is breathing pie charts and attempted to convince the public that he’s a nice guy by getting his wife to say he’s a nice guy. But opinion polls make for continued grim reading for the PM so he’s trying a joker card from the pack by attacking the Greeks.

Since we spend a fortune going on holiday to Corfu and Zante – eating all that filthy food and drinking wine made from pine trees – this might well resonate with the people. The message being “you’re dodgy and no you can’t have your marbles back”. Except I’m with George Osborne here – who is planning a loan scheme for the British Museum. I say we go the whole hog and just hand them back. But I wouldn’t just do that willy-nilly. Oh no. I’m talking about a global arrangement to send back some stuff to some countries and get a load of other stuff in return.

First off is a gigantic delivery back to the US of iPads. Millions of the wretched things to be collected from homes across the country, snatched, especially from the laps of children who have been made dumb and dumber by these devices, shipped and then dumped on, in and around the Yerba Buena Centre for the Arts in San Francisco where the iPad was first unveiled by Steve Jobs in 2010.

Then all those horrid Hitachi trains (see above) can go back to Tokyo (each carriage filled with Japanese knotweed) and we can replace them with nice old-fashioned British Rail style passenger compartments with passages, sliding doors, bouncy seats and metal slatted luggage racks.

We’ll also return all the Bosch washing machines and dryers to Gerlingen in Germany but with the generous proviso that we’ll take them back as soon as new ones have been invented that don’t go beep and then keep beeping until you’ve stormed into the utility room and turned off the damn beep. And the game of paddle can go straight back to Michigan in the US. (Obviously. No one messes with our beautiful and perfect lawn tennis.)

And we’ll ship all the paraphernalia of Winter Wonderland – all the Winter Wonderlands from London’s Hyde Park to Conkers in Derbyshire – with all those ghastly and expensive and scream-inducing rides and ghost trains and Zippos Christmas Circus over to somewhere, not quite sure, but maybe to Honesdale, Pennsylvania. Because that’s where in 1934 one Richard Smith wrote the words that later became that ghastly Christmas song. Unfair, maybe, but then so is the world.

Oh and if Qatar so love The Shard they can have it – and slap bang in the middle of Doha where you wouldn’t notice it among all the other horrific skyscrapers. As well as all that unrecyclable plastic Lego that people who glue themselves to the M25 don’t seem fussed about and that is bloody painful if you tread on a piece when you’re trying to find a glass of water in the middle of the night. And it can all go back to Billund in Denmark.

But on the other hand we’ll take back just a few things. For example: the principles of the Westminster style of parliamentary government we exported to India in 1950 and in which oafish, badly dressed, disrespectful sweary nerds don’t stalk the corridors of power and in whose debating chamber the minister of foreign affairs doesn’t feel emboldened to shout out words like shit and shithole.

We should also repatriate Liam Neeson, who may like living in New York City but would be a wonderful post-Brexit symbol for Britain that cool, hard men (who will find you, and will kill you) are returning to live here.

And to our shores will come St Mary’s Church in Fort St George in India’s Chennai, a magnificent 17th-century building that can replace the hideous Guildford Cathedral. And also all the British paintings: those Elizabethan Englands, the Pre-Raphaelites, the portraits from 1600-1800, the Constables, the Turners and the William Blakes from the Met in New York.

Yes! It’s international swap shop, the new and brilliant Christmas parlour game…