It’s almost biblical isn’t it? 42 days is now, as of today, the amount of time H.M. Government can detain us British citizens without charge. 42. For 40 days and nights Christ hung around in the desert having hallucinations about Satan, and in general, 40 days is around the time ancient wisdom suggests is enough to test one’s sanity to destruction. This, presumably, is what the entirely arbitrary figure of 42 days is all about. Like all forms of torture (and make no mistake, imprisonment without trial is psychological torture, on a par with electrodes on the genitals or ‘waterboarding’) it’s about theatre, it’s symbolic. And this figure, ’42,’ tells us of the Godlike powers of our masters. As I remember my RE teacher at school saying, ’40 days’ stood for a long, unmeasured, indeterminate stretch of time, just short of ‘forever’ in its power to terrify and subdue the devil, the adversary, the alien amongst us.

But what can we do to protest? I have a suggestion. I propose 42 days of mourning, biblical style: sackcloth and ashes, beating the breast, howling and sobbing in public. For all people of good will should mourn the events of today, for they amount to the passing of democracy, the extraordinary rendition of decency. Our British humanity has been whisked away before most of us even noticed and now begins its indefinite term in some nameless, stateless oubliette.

So, on day one of my 42, I will howl with the rest and keep on howling: ‘Down with Bush, down with Brown…’ and how very apt the rhyme is, as if our PM’s very name was destined for execration on the placard. Bring on the teargas, bring on the barricade. That is, if we’re not too Bush-whacked, B-liar-ed and cowed. Please note, George W. makes his valedictory visit to the UK in a few days, in time for Brown to deliver him a final gift: forty-two days, courtesy of a few Unionist desperadoes and two Tory/UKIP nutters. Plus that core of spineless Labour MPs whipped into submission. It isn’t only Brown who has let us all down.