Galloway meets his Prince
Thanks to the Telegraph‘s Michael Deacon (writing last Friday) we now know all abut George Galloway’s friendship with the late music star Prince, and how it may have led to a slight misunderstanding:
Poor George Galloway. He’s had a rotten week. First, he learnt from YouGov that, in the race to become Mayor of London, he’s currently polling at a disappointing zero per cent.
He could console himself, I suppose, by remembering that the margin of error in the given sample size is three per cent – so he may actually be on a more respectable three. Although, by the same token, he may equally well be on minus three.
On Thursday evening, however, he received some even worse news. An old friend had died.
I must confess, I had no idea that Mr Galloway had been friends with the Grammy-winning composer of Purple Rain, 1999 and When Doves Cry. The first I heard of it was when Mr Galloway revealed it on Twitter on Thursday night. “I am distressed to hear of the death of Prince, whom I knew briefly,” he announced.
A follower asked how he’d known him. “I hung out with him a bit 25 years ago,” replied Mr Galloway casually.
What a remarkable image. George Galloway, and one of the most famous pop singers on Earth, meeting up for a coffee, shooting the breeze, chatting pleasantly about this and that (favourite funk basslines, say, or the sad collapse of the Soviet Union). A heartwarming thought.
And yet, at the same time, a puzzling one. Twenty-five years ago, Mr Galloway was a backbench Labour MP for Glasgow Hillhead, so where exactly he and the reclusive Minneapolis-based megastar hung out remains uncertain. Sadly, I am unable to shed light on this conundrum, as I have not yet succeeded in locating any photographs of the two friends together.
This is not to suggest that I doubt the word of Mr Galloway. I do wonder, though, whether there might perhaps have been some kind of innocent mix-up.
Is there a possibility, for example, that he has confused Prince with Saddam Hussein?
Picture it. It’s the mid 1990s. Mr Galloway, a devoted fan of The Most Beautiful Girl in the World and Lovesexy, has booked a trip to the US to see his idol in concert. Yet, after accidentally heading to the wrong departure gate, he boards a flight not to Boston, but to Baghdad.
He lands at Baghdad airport. The weather seems startlingly warm; but then, to a Scotsman, everywhere seems startlingly warm. He approaches the taxi rank, and excitedly tells the driver he’s here to see Prince.
Unfortunately, the driver, having little English, misunderstands – and drives Mr Galloway to the palace.
They arrive. “Here!” announces the driver. “Big house of princes!”
Mr Galloway gazes in delighted awe at his opulent surroundings. The outrageous grandeur! The dazzling chandeliers! The solid gold lavatories!
Yes, this is exactly the sort of place one would expect a multi-millionaire eccentric like Prince to live.
Suddenly, striding importantly towards him, comes a handsome, stylishly moustached figure clad in military uniform, offset by a chic black beret.
Classic Prince! The ultimate pop chameleon! Always changing his look to stay one step ahead of the crowd!
Gratefully Mr Galloway extends his hand. “Sir!” he cries. “I salute your courage, your strength, your indefatigability!”
For years, Mr Galloway’s political opponents have misinterpreted this remark as servility to a mass-murdering tyrant. The truth is entirely innocent. He merely intended to show support to a musical idol in his long-running contractual battle with Warner Brothers.
Anyway: after that, Mr Galloway and his hero found that they got on very well – although, as the London mayoral candidate acknowledged on Twitter, the two men knew each other only briefly. Indeed, I gather that, for the last decade or more, his hero had proven impossible to make contact with.
When you look at it like that, it all starts to make sense. I think one or two people owe Mr Galloway an apology.