Sunday 6 July 2008

Going stir crazy

14st 1lb; 4.0 units of alcohol yesterday; 1,309; Northumberland – it’s Grrrrrrreat! (And please can I have a plug from the Tourism people, too?)

There is no doubt about it; weekends are a hell of a lot better when they are spent with the Less Tall Cheshire Brunette, even if it does mean trekking 220 miles to Cheshire or 320 to London in order to achieve that. All I am doing on my own in Northumberland is over-eating and brooding about my lack of worldly success. What idiot invented the online bank statement, for God’s sake? How does that enhance anyone’s enjoyment of existence?

I normally treat Sunday as a day off from newspapers, partly because my village shop does not sell them and the next nearest outlet never seems to have anything left apart from the Sunday Post by the time I get there. But mainly because of indolence, which is the ultimate explanation of just about all my actions (or, more accurately, lack of them). So I cunningly saved up yesterday’s local daily to read today. Then found that even that contained a double page spread about Wife in the Bloody North, even though they recently dispensed with her services as a columnist, along with those of several others. I assumed that that was because they thought she was no good; now I am turning to the less cheering view that it was probably because they could no longer afford her as she metamorphoses into a megastar. At least they did make a point of saying that her blog was popular “in the south”.

Then I turned to the letters page and found two angry submissions about my own “tediously predictable and boringly repetitive rants”, with special reference to my characteristically slapdash claim that Gordon Brown was “the most reviled Prime Minister of modern times”. What about the hated Thatcher, who had closed down all their lovely coal mines and shipyards, sold off their council houses and wrecked the railways? Well, good for her on the first three points, I thought, while the last was actually down to John Major (along with Black Wednesday, back to basics and the cones hotline).

I must confess that I had been lazily relying on a Daily Telegraph YouGov poll which reported that Gordon Brown had sunk to an even lower level of unpopularity than that achieved by the hapless Major at his nadir (and it was some nadir, was it not?) While I have no difficulty in recognizing that Mrs Thatcher is probably less popular than Adolf Hitler in the former coalfields of Northumberland and Durham, it had simply never occurred to me that she was ever more unpopular nationally than John Major at his lowest point. So I went off smugly to research a further column proving my case, and found that the readers were right. According to a “poll of polls” in The Independent on 3 July, she was more unpopular before her despatch in 1990 than Gordon Brown is now (and so, according to this broader measure, was John Major). But it is a close run thing and Gordon has only been working at it for a year, with a major recession hurtling down the tracks to help him over the line to the All-Time Least Great accolade.

Apparently there was some sort of tennis match taking place this afternoon. It overran into the evening and prevented me from watching a BBC1 drama about a 1960s Northumberland police inspector, to which I had been very, very faintly looking forward. I took the dog for a walk instead and then rang the LTCB, who was literally breathless with excitement about these two foreigners hitting a ball over a net at each other for five hours, latterly in semi-darkness. Compared to this, her moderate enthusiasm for a certain unfunny female blogger makes the most perfect sense.

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