I first became aware of Keith Vaz after the fatwa. I was working on an essay for my O Grade Religious Studies class on The Satanic Verses when the story reached a new level. Protestors in England, accompanied by the – to me, then – unknown MP featured in Time magazine and the UK press. The Time magazine picture was of a copy of the book being held up, its pages blackened as flames engulfed the dark blue cover, the wrestling couple on the dustjacket seeming to fall into hell. My memory merges this with the fatwa from Ayatollah Khomenei calling for the death of the author. Through his criticism of the book, and his condemnation of the writer of a work of fiction Mr Vaz seemed to have chosen the wrong side of the argument. I’d read the book. I’d enjoyed it a lot. That first sequence where the two fall from the aeroplane still haunts me. I was surprised to find what seemed to be a reference to a Doctor Who story I’d read as a Target novelisation midway through a section. The differentiation between the characters’ fantasies and hallucinations seemed clear. And it was a novel. Political, challenging, powerful. But a novel. Mr Vaz had chosen his side. And I chose mine.
As time went on I was conscious of Mr Vaz as a regular media presence. He failed to attain high office, and became embroiled in various matters around the obtaining of a passport for a wealthy donor to the Millennium Dome project, ending up with his suspension from the House of Commons for a time. But he kept reappearing. And ended up elected as chair of the House of Commons Home Affairs Select committee.
Not long after I joined twitter (on an account long since deleted) I became conscious that his name cropped up in my timeline regularly. There rarely seemed to be a story in the media that Vaz did not manage to fit himself into with a quote. Every time a bandwagon of outrage passed Vaz would leap aboard. And so I started trying to avoid him. Deliberately not reading stories where I thought he would appear. I had started to play the Keith Vaz game.
I did not want to be reminded of the man. But he was an inveterate self-publicist liable to pop up on the radio or the television when you least expected it. And so for my amusement every time he appeared in the media, and I was reminded again of his existence, I tweeted that I had lost the Keith Vaz game.
Soon, other people picked up on this. I would be sent pictures of Keith Vaz, stories featuring something from Keith Vaz – either through replies or direct messages. And every time I was reminded of him I tweeted that I had lost the Keith Vaz game.
As time went on, this growed and growed and more people tweeted the same, and the game took on a life of its own (as memes do).
Until this morning.
Ah, this morning. When the conditions on the pitch have rendered the Keith Vaz game unplayable, and the game has been referred to in the online edition of the Mirror.
Throughout my time playing the Keith Vaz game I have been conscious that we have all been losers. Now Vaz himself loses the Keith Vaz game.