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"I like peas."
In the wake of the ousting of Margaret Thatcher, John Major took charge of the Conservative party and its rapidly declining popularity. He managed to get a surprise win in the 1992 general election - popularly attributed to him giving a speech on a literal soapbox - before losing the next one in 1997. He is usually thought of as the man who filled space between Thatcher and Blair. Caricatures tended to depict him as a rather boring, grey little man, an image not particularly helped by his large glasses, tendency to dress in grey and his general tendency to come across as being rather dull.
In all fairness, John Major is not the total waste of space he is often depicted as. While he did preside over Black Wednesday, the whole system that led to that was arranged before he became Prime Minister. Also, while Tony Blair took the credit for the Good Friday Agreement, it was Major who did most of the groundwork. More recently, some people have taken to claiming that he was actually a very good Prime Minister who ran the economy well, but was so spectacularly incompetent when it came to PR and controlling his own party that he condemned himself to a needless defeat at the hands of Blair.
He is also one of the few people to have held three of the Four Great Offices of state, Prime Minister, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Foreign Secretary, the fourth, which he did not hold, being Home Secretary.
John Major's father was a circus acrobat. Many jokes were made about Major being the only boy to ever run away from the circus to become an accountant.
Like many politicians, had an embarrassing sibling: in this case his brother Terry Major-Ball, who famously ran a company that made garden gnomes.
In 2002 a revelation broke out that he had had an adulterous affair with minister Edwina Currie; this was greeted with universal incredulity by the British media, as they couldn't conceive of him doing something so interesting. But then Major was perhaps the only PM history who managed to make being attacked in Ten Downing Street by the IRA with mortar bombs from a nearby rooftop 'unmemorable'.
John Major In Fiction
- Along with Margaret Thatcher, he was a regular character on the British puppet comedy series Spitting Image. At first, he had a radar dish on his head to pick up orders from Thatcher; this was dropped later for a puppet depicted in shades of grey.
- The real kicker is that in an attempt to make Major a more interesting character, they invented an affair between him and Virginia Bottomley. Come 2002, there was a brand new context to those gags, even though they could've been a bit more accurate with their prescience...
- There is a PM who very clearly looks like John Major in a Funfax spy puzzle thing about missing brains or something.
- Private Eye`s prime ministerial parody was "The Secret Diary of John Major" (obviously based on The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole in style) with Running Gags "my wife Norman", "oh yes!", "I was not inconsiderably incandescent" and "the book of bastards".
- Major is described succinctly on The New Statesman as the only person who ever ran away from the circus (he did) to join a firm of accountants, rather than the other way round.
- He appears in Jack Higgins' Eye of the Storm, which revolves around the aforementioned mortar attack on Downing Street.
- Kim Newman wrote two short stories about alternative versions of him under the banner title Alternate Majors: "Slow News Day" and "The Germans Won" (the latter of which not being the alternative history you might be expecting).
- Mr Bent, the stuffy uptight chief clerk of the Anhk-Morprok bank in Making Money has a clear reference to John Major in that he ran away from the circus to become an accountant.