Trust Kelvin Mackenzie to come up with the answer. While the creepy Mandelson twists his hands in tormented confusion over what to do with his Dome, the affable, bluff, and genially foul-mouthed former editor of The Sun effortlessly reads the pulse of the mob.
Now sporting an extra chin and the title of deputy chief executive of Mirror Group, Mackenzie doubles up as executive producer of The People’s Princess – A Tribute, a TV drama about the romance of Diana, Princess of Wales, and Dodi, son of the foul-mouthed proprietor of Harrods. When the project was announced, Mackenzie received a threatening letter from Mischon De Reya, the law firm that acts for the Princess’s estate and charges 250 to mark each passing hour. The lawyers wanted to know if Mirror Television had permission to make the film. Mackenzie regarded their inquiry as an impertinence and accused them of acting disgracefully.
Then he made a comment that was so simple, true, and, as the Americans say, so insightful, that it ought to make Mandelson blush for shame at having overlooked the obvious. “Diana was the single most famous person to walk on this planet,” said Mackenzie. “The idea that you cannot make a film about her is ludicrous.”
Doesn’t it all slot into place? The agonising over whether the millennium has anything to do with Christianity (whose founder was the previous holder of the title of the single most famous person to walk on this planet ) is resolved in an instant. Forget Disney, forget Christ, forget the Union Flag: hail the DianaDome.
It was staring him in the face, if only Mandy had looked. Why, had not his own focus groups told him that “people wanted something that brings people together, something which is unifying, something which is shared”? Had not the clamour to buy tickets to visit the Princess’s grave made something click in the restless, questing mind of the Minister Without Portfolio?
Never mind, there’s still time. As the Dome rises amid the squalor of Greenwich, like a mediaeval cathedral soaring above a hovel-filled landscape, plans may be made for welcoming Diana worshippers from the four corners of the world. Of course, we must not forget that this is also a celebration of what it means to be British. At that momentous turning point in time, when the chronological gong sounds the eve of a new millennium, and the curtain comes down on 1,000 years of our island history, rising again to reveal the sun-dappled promise of all our tomorrows, the Dome must remind us of who we are.
Visitors, or, more accurately, pilgrims, should pass through several chambers as they progress through the Dome. One would contain folk objects such as the Tomb of the Unknown Vandal, a pair of cloned Tamworth pigs and Corgis pickled by Damien Hirst. Another would be devoted to sex and would contain such attractions as the youngest father and the oldest mother, both mercifully still with us, waving cheerful greetings from behind bullet- proof glass.
Sport, so dear to all our hearts, cannot be forgotten. A perpetual football match will serve as a nostalgic backdrop to a visitor participation programme involving taunts, chants, and glottal-stopping obscenities. There will be special prizes for demonstrations of blind hatred.
But our caring side will not be overlooked. There will be counselling. There will be kiddies to be cuddled and grannies to be sent into special homes. Ministers of the Crown will be on hand to show visitors how to wash their hands and to offer useful tips on what is safe to eat and what should be spat out on the floor.
There will be lots of celebrities, computer games, Coca-Cola, cheeseburgers, weather girls, Spice Girls, disco music, hairdressers and adult entertainment featuring copulation and blood letting. But all this cultural immersion will be but a preliminary to the true purpose of the Millennium Experience, which is Diana worship.
Visitors will be asked to remove their trainers before entering the shrine. They will tip-toe into darkness and make their way to the point of high, shining light in whose effulgent glow can be glimpsed an endless sea of cellophane-wrapped flowers and cuddly toys. As the recorded voice of Elton John softly croons the best of Andrew Lloyd-Webber, worshippers will watch an animated feature film of the life of Diana, directed by Kelvin Mackenzie, with the voice of Mel B. Diana will be played by a puppet made in Russia. The halt, the sick and the lame will be encouraged to step forward and touch its raiment.
On leaving, the spiritually refreshed will be invited to buy their Diana scratchcards at the door marked Exit. From there they will progress into a plastic green and gold pyramid, where Mohammed Al Fayed will be happy to sell them new trainers and all manner of Diana memorabilia to suit every pocket, from diamond encrusted fish slices to humble plastic egg cups.
It will be an unforgettable experience, a time for bonding. It will remind us of who we are, and how compassionate we have become. Above all, it will reaffirm Mandelson’s eminence as the architect of the nation, the rebrander with the golden touch, the man whom Tony Blair calls a really great guy and who we, the humble people, call friend.