Monday 12 May 2008

Two columns, Third World

13st 9lb; 3.0 units of alcohol yesterday evening, though these bald words hardly do justice to the decanter of Dow’s 1955 port I polished off to unwind after my drive back from Chester; 1,362; Somalia (Northumberland branch).

Most unusually, the dog woke me by thumping down from the bed onto the floor at 4.45 a.m. I was going to ignore him, then remembered the messy consequences when I last tried that approach when we were staying with friends the other weekend. So I dragged myself up and tried to work out what he wanted. He was staring fixedly at the spot where I always used to keep a bowl of water for the benefit of my other dog, now deceased, who often liked a refreshing drink in the middle of the night. The present incumbent had never shown the slightest interest in it, so I took it away. After weighing up all the possibilities, I led him downstairs and he had a very long drink from his bowl in the kitchen before going for a little wander around the garden. He then returned to bed and slept soundly until noon. While I lay wide awake looking at him enviously until 6.30, when I gave up and had some breakfast before going to my desk and attempting to write a column for tomorrow’s paper. This is my equivalent of “signing on” – a distinctly non-onerous task which appears disproportionately burdensome because I have so little else to do.

My morale always reaches its weekly high point when I have completed this assignment, and I went to have a nice hot shower to celebrate. Only there was yet again no water, just a lot of belching and farting from the taps. I suspect that the UN needs to redraw its definitive map of the Third World to show an enclave in this particular corner of Northumberland. So I ran a hot bath and went back to my desk until it had cooled down, not wishing to involve myself in a Princess Margaret scenario (bandages, wheelchair, funeral in St George’s Chapel – actually, I quite fancy that last bit). I filled the time by writing another column for Wednesday’s business pages, which struck me as being vastly more amusing than the one I had done for tomorrow – though trying to convey anything at all within the desired 375 words is much more like writing a haiku than a column. I suspect so, at any rate. I’ve never actually tried to write a haiku.

Nor has anyone ever commented on one of my business columns in living memory, so I am highly unlikely to find out whether anyone agrees with me about its rib-tickling nature.

I have just gained an hour a day without making any adjustments to my clocks, because the LTCB has taken herself abroad for a week and is no longer able to ring me in the evenings. She’ll probably get cross with me if I say where she’s gone, but I can safely say that it’s not among the world’s top tourist destinations. In fact, it probably gets a lot more attention from the Pentagon than it does from Thomas Cook. I hope she knows what she is doing, apart from threatening to grow a Stalin moustache.

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