When it comes to English weather, you can only have so much fun before you finally admit defeat and throw in the beach towel. But escaping these shores in the summer is expensive. Whenever the schools are in recess, the cost of flights increases and the price of sunshine moves further beyond your budget. For me, the answer is to head for the rain and to hope for the best. It's 'Low Season' in Thailand and I managed to book flights for myself and Hannah when they were still relatively cheap. It will be Hannah's first taste of travelling. Nothing extreme, apart from the limited budget. Hopefully a temporary separation from hair straighteners and meals that don't need to be unwrapped will prove less traumatic than she currently fears. We'll be roughing it for a night in Heathrow Airport before flying via Abu Dhabi to Bangkok. We'll spend a couple of days in and around 'The Village'' close to Khon Kaen and then back to Bangkok for some therapeutic shopping that should help to reduce any teenage trauma. From there, it's down to a beach hut in Krabi for a few days before returning home via every landing strip in the Middle East. Hopefully, Blighty will still be here when we return at the end of August.
Meanwhile, I think it's fair to say that 2009 hasn't been Gordon Brown's finest year. I suspect that for him the summer recess couldn't have arrived soon enough. For the first few weeks of his family vacation, Mr Brown is spending time with his family in the Lake District and by avoiding flying, he'll be helping to save the planet. Then, he'll return to Kirkcaldy where he'll be undertaking voluntary work and thus helping to save his reputation. To prevent this altruistic act from looking like any another calculated publicity stunt, the Downing Street press office has quietly announced that this volunteering should not be a matter for media attention. Shoot me.
Back in Westminster, Deputy Leader Harriet Harman had moved loudly into Number 10. It's interesting that she's chosen this particular time to announce that 'Men' are to blame for the current financial crisis. She's probably quite correct in her assumption that men are to be blamed, but as she makes her feet comfortable beneath Downing Street's shagpile, I wonder if she'll be brave enough to name the 'Men' she's referring to? Harriet is undeniably ambitious, but Gordon needn't worry too much about her current bout of sniping. Next week she''ll be gone and replaced by his trusty sidekick, Peter Mandelson. In turn, Mandelson will later be replaced by Jack Straw who'll keep things ticking along until Gordon returns to the helm at the end of the summer recess. Hold on. I know that Alan Sugar's been drafted in to support Gordon's Cabinet, but this is beginning to sound like a very scary episode of the apprentice. The contestants may be quite familiar to us, but I think we can guess who Peter Mandelson is hoping will get ''Fired'' and ''Hired''.
When Lord Mandelson of Foy in the county of Herefordshire and Hartlepool in the county of Durham, First Secretary of State, Secretary of State for Business Innovation and Skills and Lord President of the Council moves into Downing Street next week, I suspect that included within his personal baggage there will be a tape measure. Mandelson may lack many things, but like Harriet Harman, ambition isn't one of them. It seems that having saved Gordon Brown's arse, Mandelson has been given the freedom of Westminster and is using it to advantage. His own advantage of course. Gordon Brown must surely have enough vision to see that those around him are planning their own advancement based upon his demise.
Lord Mandelson hasn't employed any subtlety in his efforts to undermine the Prime Minister. He doesn't need to be subtle, Brown is a fighter on the ropes, punch drunk, upright but unconscious and clinging to every possible glimmer of hope. Mandelson privately devised, and then publicly destroyed, the obviously flawed message of 'Tory Cuts'' verses ''Labour Investment''. He volunteered Brown for a ''Presidential Debate'' that he can never win and that he'd already declined. I can only guess that it was the Lord of Darkness himself who advised Gordon Brown to continue the Government's stupid and immoral challenge to the levels of compensation paid to service men and women injured in the line of duty. I'm no fan of Brown, nor a supporter of Cameron and Clegg, but they're all infinitely preferable to the twice disgraced and unelected hubris horror that is Lord Peter Mandelson.
Perhaps I'm being paranoid, but my theory is this: Mandelson plans the complete the public destruction of Gordon Brown and thus ensures that Cameron's Conservatives win the 2010 General Election. A task that with Brown's assistance, he seems to have already achieved. Prior to the election, Mandelson will relinquish his many titles and stand as a Labour MP in the safest possible seat. Following a humiliating election defeat, Mandelson will run, with Harriet Harmen as his Deputy, and gain the leadership of the Labour Party. The Tories will inherit an economy where for many years to come the only thing in the black will be Alistair Darling's eyebrows. They'll have to increase taxes and drastically reduce Government spending. Within five years of necessary but unpalatable economic pain, we'll grow bored with the austerity and vote New New Labour back into power. Peter Mandelson, First Lord of the Treasury, Prime Minister ...... mission accomplished.