Monday 9 June 2008

Black comedy

13st 12lb; 8.5 units of alcohol again yesterday, though that is luckily just short of treble the recommended daily maximum; 1,335; Ealing Studios.

I spent the morning writing a newspaper column comparing the operas I have seen in the last week with the performance of Her Majesty’s Government in recent months. Obviously the plot of Gordon Brown: Prime Minister requires a far greater suspension of disbelief than anything I have yet seen on stage, but the similarities with that other dour Scottish plotter in Macbeth are all too obvious, and I had the great gift of seeing a Rodolfo in La Boheme who looked exactly like the Kirkcaldy Ditherer; and, in another uncannily accurate parallel, was also completely hopeless in attempting to perform his part.

I delivered the usual daily newspaper to the octogenarian couple next door, the female half of which said “What a nice lassie that was you brought round yesterday.” Since, to the best of my recollection, the Less Tall Cheshire Brunette had been in their sitting room for no more than one minute, during which she had said little beyond “Hello” to them and “Who's a lovely kitty, then?” to their cat, I deduced that she was probably relying on a favourable report from my aunt. Which was encouraging. She advised me sternly to “Make a go of it”, not adding the traditional “for once” or “for a change” at the end. I promised that I would try.

Taking the dog for his daily walk late this afternoon, I was accosted on the road by a couple of very dodgy looking geezers in a slow-moving, old, grey estate car: a young bloke in the driving seat wearing a combat jacket and beautifully matching baseball cap, and a much older, toothless fat man in the passenger seat who leaned out to ask if I knew which farm the land across the road belonged to. He explained that they “were looking for a bit of land to go after rabbits and that”. But they looked much more like a couple of stock characters from the popular new genre of British black comedies about serial killers, scouting for a suitable place to dump the bodies. I felt fortunate when they drove on without adding me to their tally.

There could not have been a more perfect way to spend an hour this evening than watching the Dispatches programme on Channel 4 about how it all went wrong for Gordon Brown. Apparently Brown was so infuriated by the news of the benefits disc loss that he kicked a desk over. Good. I do hope he hurt his foot in the process.

I sat for some time afterwards wondering whether there had ever been a more irritating political phenomenon in my lifetime than the irrepressibly cheerful midget Hazel Blears, with her visceral dislike of the grammar schools which got her where she is today (admittedly creating perhaps the soundest argument yet for their abolition), and her regularly repeated mantra that Britain is “a secular democracy” rather than, as it appears to the rest of us, an avowedly Christian country with an anointed sovereign reigning, as every coin proclaims, Dei Gratia, and (at the last count) two officially established churches.

I wonder what possessed my aunt to give me a packet of my favourite Café Noir biscuits when she came to see me yesterday. She does not seem like the sort of person who would give a bottle of Scotch to an alcoholic, or a can of petrol and some matches to an arsonist. Yet as I brushed the crumbs off my chest before going to bed tonight, I could not help reflecting that the consequences of giving moreish biscuits to a greedy man on a diet were almost equally disastrous.

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