In Julius Caesar, Shakespeare gives Mark Anthony a speech that pretends to be one thing, but is almost exactly the opposite.
And this week Boris Johnson used a resignation speech in order to stay in office.
He did it not just by the words he used when he spoke, but by the way he framed his speech in advance.
Hi. This is ::Everyday Writing:: A newsletter from me, John-Paul Flintoff, with additional everyday drawings.
In case you missed it: 50+ ministers had resigned, in a flurry that became a tsunami. Some of them had popped into 10 Downing Street to tell him he should step down.
But he wouldn't. He absolutely refused, with the stubbornness that people (including me) describe as shameless.
Early yesterday morning, 10 Downing Street went quiet. Stopped answering media calls. Then at 9am, Johnson allowed his people to tell the BBC political editor that he was going to resign. (Note: Johnson didn't say it himself.)
The pressure on him was lifted, instantly.
By lunchtime, Johnson had arranged to have the familiar podium placed outside.
He walked out to make a speech that everybody listened to as if it was a resignation speech.
Broadcasters significantly contributed to this effect by laying across their screens the legend "Boris Johnson resigns as PM" (or similar). People watching at home believed that it was indeed a resignation speech.
But he didn't say he'd resigned, or even that he was leaving.
He stated that he'd failed to convince Tory MPs they should stick with him as leader of the Conservative party. Which is not the same thing at all.
(Interestingly, he didn't say "our" party. He described it, in the speech's second sentence, as "that" party. Later in the day, Nigel Farage popped round, which is interesting too.)
Johnson's speech was criticised by people who don't like him anyway as "ungracious". Some expressed surprise that it hadn't made them feel even a tiny bit sorry for him - unlike the resignations of, say, Theresa May and Gordon Brown.
Perhaps that's because Johnson himself showed no sadness - because it wasn't a resignation speech. It was a speech to buy him time.
As I write, Johnson has still not been to see the Queen. He has successfully backfilled the cabinet, so critics can no longer say the government has ceased to function - and he enjoys renewed power to hire and fire.
There's little chance of the party electing a replacement leader for some weeks. I daresay Johnson hopes his rivals will tear each other apart, and then party members will demand that he remain in post.
Poster by me, for an event where I also spoke.
I gave a talk last week to an industry conference.
I wasn’t trying to persuade anybody to Change The World “my way” – whatever that might be – but to find their own way.
Follow their own instincts, use their own talents.
There’d been quite a bit of friendly joking about my talk beforehand (the words “hippy-dippy” were used occasionally). That’s fine. I’m happy with it.
And I would have understood if everybody was so wrapped up in the real problems of their work, and private lives, to pay much attention to me.
But the time came for me to deliver my talk.
I tried to emphasise that contemplating the question “how to change the world?” is a means to raise your game – to make whatever you’re doing even more significant and generally wonderful.
Before I finished, I said: “You could write the question on a piece of paper and put it in your pocket. That way, you might rediscover it every so often…”
On the way home from the conference, I met one of the attendees. He pulled from his pocket this hand-written note:
I found a photograph of these tulips on Instagram, posted by somebody I had just started to follow. So I drew it.
I can’t always have flowers on my desk – there's not much space, for starters. But I can always have drawings of flowers on the walls.
Sounds obvious, but I didn’t think of it until one day I saw my friend D. on Zoom, surrounded by houseplants: envy motivated me to draw my own monstera (aka cheese plant).
Tulips drawn, thus, on A3 paper with a weird combination of watercolour pencils and rapeseed cooking oil from the Co-op, then finished with digital sketching on Procreate for iPad.
That's all for now. Thanks for reading.