The day started promisingly, after I got over my initial, depressing rendezvous with the bathroom scales, and the outside world looked even whiter than it did yesterday. People keep going on about the cold weather being exceptional for Easter, but that is not my memory at all. For two decades I lived in London and sought relief by visiting a cottage on the Northumberland moors for holidays. I never came before Easter or after August Bank Holiday, because the weather on those dates was always unbelievably awful. (I have genuinely stood in that cottage window watching a snowstorm rage outside on an August Bank Holiday Monday.) This is a cunning trick played by God, in association with the Northumbrian Discouragement of Tourism Board, to deter anyone from visiting in the intervening months. Unless you lived here, who would ever guess that October and even February often offer mild and sunny weather that is ideal for hill walking?
There didn’t seem much point restraining myself after yesterday’s blow-out, so I went out to a pub lunch with an old friend and ordered a pint of beer and probably the two most fattening dishes on the menu. At least I had the foresight to turn up at 12.15, enabling me to grab the last unreserved table in the place and adopt a look of pitying superiority as a long crocodile of less well-organized types trailed through the door in search of sustenance. My friend, who lives in London, explained his difficulties with the forthcoming mayoral election, in which he does not feel he can vote for Ken (despite being a lifelong socialist) or for Boris, in view of the latter’s “racism” (citing specifically his references to “picaninnies” and “watermelon smiles”). Having looked into this, I find that the offending expressions were dredged up by a Labour think tank from a 2002 Daily Telegraph column in which Johnson was trying to be funny about one of the Blessed Tony’s triumphalist visits as the Saviour of Africa. Which just goes to show how careful one must be about making jokes if one ever intends to run for public office. Since I don’t, I’m probably safe in describing the candidate my friend has decided to vote for as The Odd Copper. Since he stands absolutely no chance of winning, I asked my friend who he intended to put as his second preference, and he said “no-one”. This will achieve precisely the same result as spoiling his ballot paper or indeed staying at home with his feet up, but I suppose at least he will feel as though he has played some part in the democratic process.
Actually, on reflection, I don’t know why he thinks he has an unusual difficulty in not really fancying (no, stop it, one Odd Copper joke is enough) any of the main candidates. In most recent elections, I’d have put my cross in a “None of the Above” box if one had been available. Indeed making just such a provision, combined with compulsory voting, might be precisely what we need to shake up the so-called political class and force them to start taking notice of the people.
Having completed our walk in sunshine, a blizzard broke out within minutes of shutting the back door on our return home. This is precisely the reverse of the expected sequence of events. Also taking into account my fairly swift and relatively painless weight loss, I am beginning to wonder whether I have slipped through a chink in the space-time continuum into a parallel universe where everything operates like a photographic negative: the opposite of what one actually expects.