Tuesday 20 July 2010

Rich git

15st 8lb, zero units. Yesterday I drove my aunt back home to Northumberland. It lashed it down all the way. An accident closed the M62, so we went via the supposedly more scenic route of the M6, A69 and B6318 Military Road, but for most of the way we could see little through the surrounding low cloud apart from the spray thrown up by lorries.

Before we left, I filed a newspaper column about my economy drive, thinking that I had made ample recognition of the fact that I know myself to be immensely privileged, but it provoked a vitriolic e-mail from Monday’s columnist pointing out that “your readers now know that you live in two houses, have nights at the opera, buy your food from M&S, have incredibly expensive private health insurance, take foreign holidays, have enough spare cash to make charitable and political donations and are trustee to various music organisations. You are, in other words, a rich git. I suspect the readers' letters pages will be full of comments about columnist toffs/just desserts etc.”

Oh dear.

I had plenty of time to mull all this over as today I took my car in for a routine service. When I booked it, about three weeks ago, the receptionist explained that it was one of the major services, made more expensive by the fact that they needed to change the oil in the gearbox. I was therefore a little surprised to receive a telephone call late this morning, informing me that my car would be off the road until tomorrow because they had emptied the oil from the gearbox, then discovered that they did not have any of the right grade to replace it. I asked whether they could see how the efficiency of that operation might be improved by checking Point B before embarking on Operation A and they conceded that they could, so I suppose at least it has been a Learning Experience for someone.

Added to which, it gave me the half day I needed to write a reference for the former PA who is returning to work after a 13 year career break and who has secured her dream job as PA to the headmistress of her local secondary school. The list of questions was very, very long and it was a struggle even for one with my famously elephantine memory to remember what her salary was when she left us in 1997, and how many days of sick leave she had taken during the year. I also thought I was going to struggle to offer any intelligent comment on her suitability to work with children. Then I remembered how I and some of my colleagues used to behave, and I realized that a thousand or so 11 – 18 year olds would be an absolute doddle.

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