IT was her tone that did it. Some plummy-voiced woman the other day on the telly presenting one of those property shows.
She said, with stunning authority, that “everyone wants to live in the country”. She said this with the simultaneous air of expecting everyone to agree with her and those who don’t are idiots.
No, I am a city rat. The reek of exhaust fumes relaxes me. The sound of sirens lulls me to sleep.
I nearly burned the ironing. I don’t want to live in the country. I seriously dislike the country. The only place I like the country is where it should be, which is outside the windows of my car, safely sliding past at approximately 55 miles an hour whilst I get closer to the city all the time.
Where does this weird fetish about country living being great come from?
Ah, they say, what about the community spirit, people gathering at the old village hall for the ceilidh and bake sale? Oh, and let’s not forget the good old country folk who have lived there for generations, ready to pass down the centuries of wisdom to the city refugees who have washed up at their doors in their new 4x4 cars and Hunter wellies.
Well, pants to that say I, with apologies for the language. As far as I can see, the community spirit is sherry, the village hall got sold off to a hedge fund manager years ago as a second home for his third wife, and the country folk of ancient lineage are all sitting at home binge watching Breaking Bad on tellies so big you can guess the episode at a single glance from the car as you overtake a tractor on a road on the other side of the glen. Meanwhile, they pointedly ignore the incomers, and quite rightly so, in my opinion, who have racked up house prices so high that only bankers with a bonus bigger than Scotland’s block grant can afford them.
Not the life of a country mouse for me. No, I am a city rat. The reek of exhaust fumes relaxes me. The sound of sirens lulls me to sleep. Life too far away from, in no order of importance, John Lewis, Boots and a range of good-quality charity shops fills me with terror.
OK, I’ll give you this about country living. You can park anywhere. And that’s about it.
Genius Victoria enjoyed the last laugh on bully-boy comedians of the 1970s
Stupidly, I thought there would always be another chance to see Victoria Wood live, but now 2016 has claimed another hero. She was, quite simply, a genius.
The glorious Ms Wood created comedy without malice.
It’s hard to remember that back then in the 70s, the word comedian was associated with (mostly) white men in suits who made playground bully fun out of women, black people, people with disabilities . . . in short, people not like them. Then along came Victoria Wood, with her gormless pal Kimberly and her love of Malibu, Kelly-Marie Tunstall, aged waitresses who take a week to get two soups to the table and Acorn Antiques. Sublime.
So, 2016, could we just knock off the hero-harvesting for a while?
Meltdown over broken glasses was a real sight
Well, she was catwalk ready or, at the very least, the aisle of the number 16. She was about four years old, with a snappy little dress, a smart coat and those socks that have a frilly edge. Blonde curls and red shoes.
Lil’ Madam was rocking her look with a finishing touch of sunglasses. The bus moved off. The glasses flew off. And they cracked.
Cue a tantrum of truly epic proportions. We got the full window-smashing howl, the flying fists of fury and tears actually firing forward, like some sort of tiny superhero who can melt people with acid shooting out of her eyes.
People were tutting a wee bit, I’ll admit, but I’ve got to say I was more than just a little admiring. What if we could all just have a bit of a meltdown over a life disappointment?
What if the losing side of any political battle had a massive tears ‘n’ snotters temper tantrum on the telly, then got up, dusted themselves off and said: “Right, well that’s that then. Move on.”
Incidentally, I saw you. You were wearing a green coat with a sticker on it – I’d hate to guess your age publicly, but I think your bus pass probably has a few years on it? You watched the raging diva, and I think, like me, you spotted the look on the young mum’s face.
The princess wanted new glasses (which probably didn’t cost much) but her mum’s expression said it all. There was no money for new glasses.
The fiver was a flash in the hand, done with incredible speed as you exited the bus, with a quick whispered comment. It was like watching Ali in action.
The little princess stopped crying, but mum wiped away a tear. Her own. Community spirit, fellow city rat.