Someone said it’s going to be a long hot autumn too, so, on the Fashion Front, we’d expect the Freemason look – with the right trouser leg rolled to the knee – to gain further currency with cyclists. The magazines are demanding a sleeker outline for winter, and telling us to think Shiney. (They’re always pushing PVC and it never sells, but there could be lots of leather.) Leggings are obviously huge with the girls, even if blokes can’t understand them. (I remember a similar confusion over tights in the 60s; the guys all thought OK, we’ll swap the Garter-ﬂash for extra thigh – but what about the access?)
At the time of writing it’s still the Silly Season and I’m trying to remember how we ﬁlled the papers before we invented Terrorism. Little old ladies are now being escorted by ﬁghter planes across the Atlantic, suspected of harbouring handcream and bottled water, and Ryanair is trying to develop a see-thru carrier bag that will take 10 kilos of cabin luggage. Every day the police are discovering new holes that could be used for burying bomb parts, trees that Terrorists might hide behind, and stocks of rice and poppadums that could be fed to hungry Martyrs.
The exploding laptop scare has ﬁnally ﬁzzled out, I think. Like many people we bought one from PC World but the blast was disappointing – it just destroyed the data and leaked a little green goo. The liquid explosive thing is more signiﬁcant, and it was discovered by a woman from Walthamstow. When her Netto Family Shampoo and the Lidl Total Conditioner leaked into the children’s Gameboy, her husband, noticing the blaze, thought it might come in handy for jihad, and put the recipe on the internet.
The pile of old crisp packets and Lucozade bottles in front of the telly has given a sudden lurch. It’s not actually a landﬁll site, as I had supposed; it’s the teenager that went missing halfway through the hols. It’s running out of episodes of Orange County, and getting seriously worried about going back to school. Can we cope with dark mornings again, or remember how the alarm clock works? I’ve prised off one of his earphones and told him we’ve got to do some work
this year – which suggestion has been met with mockery, disbelief and a growing sense of outrage. There’s even talk of preventing parents from doing their children’s coursework at home! It’s not fair, he whines, and withdraws into his sleeping bag.
I’ve told him not to worry, talk is cheap and he’ll be drawing his pension before they get around to doing anything about it. Meanwhile he should get on with his internet cheating like everyone else. He says, ‘What’s the point? 96 point 8 percent of kids pass their GCSEs these days anyway’. So I have to remind him he’s probably one of the remaining 3.2 percent who forget to tick the box where it says, Do you want to pass or not?
A guy from the Arsenal (I mean the Emirates) is on the radio proudly claiming that 40% of the ﬂats they’ve built are Affordable Housing. That must be why they’ve painted them grey with dreadful red window frames. What I’d really like to know is who’ll buy the Unaffordable Housing? Hopefully, it’ll be people who can’t afford cars either, or the area will be permanently gridlocked. When we rented our holiday cottage in Stokey-on-the-Wold recently we found a building site in the garden and a billboard blocking the view, courtesy of the Deputy Prime Minister’s new Department for Blighting the Countryside. They’ve overturned the conservation legislation to provide Affordable Housing for locals. But the locals all live there already, and they’d rather have their view back, thank you. Closer to home, Prezza’s Department for Despoiling the Town has raised the Brownﬁeld scam into an art form. Who wants to develop derelict factories when you can get a grant for grabbing scraps of breathing space in residential areas? For a reasonable fee, Prescot’s son will even ﬁnd one for you.
Ground Zero on the site of the Nun’s Home is now rearing over the ten-foot fence. From the depth of the hole they dug I predict an ofﬁce block. The little gap in Edwards Lane has been plugged with new Shudios. (Completely new concept, the agent explained. Cross between a Shoebox and a Studio Flat. Mind your head there! It’s Intimate, certainly, but very Affordable…)
One in ﬁve Britons is thinking of emigrating, apparently, and the other four are worried sick about Immigrants. Even the guys with the cans on the benches are grumbling about cheaper, harder-working drunks from Eastern Europe.
Finally, a word of warning: beware department stores this time of year. We got Pre-Traumatic Stress Disorders last October when John Lewis changed their Garden dept into a Christmas display, and we are therefore promising to keep our shop a Yule-free zone, and we will not bring out the red suede undies with the white fur trim until late on December 24th .
Mortimer is Chief Executive Ofﬁcer of Ribbons and Taylor on Church Street