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Archive for May, 2014

Edgware Road Incident

Friday, May 30th, 2014

Dear Rachel,

These days, we take the fact that It Ain’t What You Do It’s The Way That You Do It for granted, but it wasn’t until 1983 that Fun Boy Three pointed it out, and even then they needed to feature Bananarama in order to do so. This principle can be seen in action everywhere. Take adrenaline, for example: it’s not simply that it makes time appear to pass more slowly in stressful situations, but that it does so by making you so hyper aware of your surroundings that you become effectively bionic. Time isn’t passing more slowly – your reactions are speeded up, which amounts to the same thing. You’re using the Force, basically, and your mind is working so fast that it can find itself contemplating things unconnected to your immediate surroundings.

Unexpectedly obliged to cycle at full tilt through crowds of pedestrians along the Edgware Road recently, I had an opportunity to experience this phenomenon at first hand. Instead of concentrating upon avoiding people and prams and plate glass windows, I was thinking about a man named Walter Greaves and the front door keys to my old dear’s house, which were at that point undamaged.

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Magic Number

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

Dear Rachel

As a child, I always knew when someone was approaching the house as my old dear would put Radio 4 on to make us seem sophisticated. If you’re unfamiliar with Radio 4, it’s a service provided by the British Broadcasting Corporation that strives to list all the things that middle class people can’t cope with, and even if my old dear and I sat around all day eating artisan pesto sandwiches and watching the Great British Bake Off, we would still not be its target audience.

A baffling woman, my old dear would be an interesting Bake Off contestant. She recently complained that ‘you can’t keep gravy on a Tesco’s sausage – they’re like candles’, and that by the time she was back from the shops she could ‘strangle for a bun’. When we take observations like this into account, and combine them with, for example, her recent desire to take on a rescue dog – ‘one that just wants a little bit of plc’ – you’ll understand why my advice for people meeting her for the first time is to get her drunk as quickly as possible – her behaviour won’t change, but at least you’ll have an excuse for it.

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Countryside Dalliance

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

Dear Rachel

Everything in the countryside wants to bite you, and because of this I have traditionally eyed it with caution. The problem is that I’m simply too urban, and the countryside knows it. I don’t walk like someone from the countryside, I don’t talk or buy biscuits or charge my phone or sit on a sofa like someone from the countryside. I don’t know how animals work, or what most of them are for, and I’m obviously ‘not from round here’ as soon as I’m exposed to anything more rural than a roundabout sponsored by a garden centre.

In fact, I am so out of my depth in the countryside that I look like someone doing an impersonation of someone out of their depth in the countryside, falling over gates, wading waist high through nettles and asking what time the cows usually go to sleep. I’m like the last Roman in Britain – I want everything on time and where I left it, and I don’t see the point of several thousand years of municipal evolution if it’s longer than ten minutes to the chip shop. Imagine my delight, then, when I recently found myself at an agricultural show in deepest Norfolk, watching a man shooting vegetables in a field.

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