Tuesday 7 April 2009

Cultivating a heart of stone

14st 12lb, 3.7 units. I think I might be getting a grip. And about bloody time, too, some would no doubt say. At least I have reminded myself that it is possible to eat a pub lunch and still lose weight, so long as one does not make the mistake of eating anything substantial in the evening. Or indeed anything at all, full stop. And I managed to spend a fair old whack of time at my desk during the day, catching up with a substantial backlog of correspondence.

It’s strange that I managed to be so depressed yesterday, given that I took delivery of the biggest cache of presents I have ever received in my life. Ten sodding great cardboard boxes full of the things, delivered by a couple of rather disgruntled blokes from John Lewis, whose bleeping van provided an unwanted musical accompaniment as I tried to write my newspaper column during the morning and they simultaneously attempted to drive down our street in Chester. Then finally conceded that it could not be done owing to all the appallingly parked cars, and slowly reversed out again. It’s strange that these gifts do so little for me, since I used to like nothing better than coming down on Christmas morning and opening my stocking. Perhaps it’s because I already know precisely what is in the boxes, namely the contents of our wedding list. But then there was never much of a mystery about the fact that the round things in the toe of the stocking were going to turn out to be tangerines; gifts of a strictly traditional character which were freely obtainable at any time from the aluminium fruit bowl, commemorating the coronation of King Edward VII, which always sat on the small table in my parents’ sitting room window.

So many people have shown us so much generosity, buying us things we actually wanted (or that Mrs H actually wanted, at any rate) and all I can think is “Oh, bugger it, I’m going to have to open all that lot and check that they didn’t smash anything when they were in a bit of a huff about having to wheel it from two streets away.”

Sometimes I am not a very admirable person.

That last sentence also works perfectly well without the opening word.

The only thing calculated to depress me further today was the usual in these parts: the prevalence of scratters (also known as chavs and "the underclass"). Mrs H and I took the dog for a walk late last night and encountered a little group of them swaggering along the pavement, hoods pulled over their heads, streams of spittle going absolutely everywhere, faces contorted with a mixture of what I used to call absolutely bestial stupidity, until I realized that it was gratuitously insulting to cattle, and attempted menace. “Jus you dare look a me an I’ll knife you inna guts” was what they were attempting to convey, I think.

I ran into the same group, identically attired and disposed, when I took the dog out for another walk at lunchtime today, and was reassured that they had also acquired the stereotypical accessory of a pit bull terrier lookalike pulling menacingly on chain. I somehow managed to restrain myself from saying “Oh, what a sweet little doggie! Is he called Tyson by any chance?” But as I was doing that, I noticed that the 16-year-old would-be Hard Man in charge of the group had somehow acquired what looked like a really painful black eye.

Sometimes round here you really do have to have a heart of stone not to laugh.

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