Friday, 14 October 2011

13 October 2011. Letter 42

Dear Mark and Sue

Re: 19.22 FGW service from Paddington to Oxford, 13/10/11. Amount of my day wasted: five minutes.

Mark! Sue! Hey, you! (And you too!)

Guess what? You know how I said how those minor, under-seven minute delays weren't registering on my radar? Well Papa got a brand new radar!

And I figured, sure, you can ask: what's five minutes compared to, you know, 20 minutes, or 28 minutes, or 38 minutes? (Twenty-five per cent, 17.86 per cent and 13.16 per cent respectively, but let's not get hung up on the whole numbers thing, eh?) But at the same time, five minutes is still indisputably five minutes. This much, as Mr Tony Hadley, jet-black-haired, slightly-too-pudgy-for-his-leather-pants singer with Spandau Ballet still insists, is true. And in this case, it's five minutes I didn't intend to spend on one of your trains. And now it's five minutes you owe me back.

Besides, Mark - that five minutes gives me just enough time to congratulate you on your Private Eye appearance this week! At the top of page 12! Under the rather brilliant headline "Ticketing-boo"! You must be very proud!

I've been in Private Eye myself, you know! I know what it's like, dude! Prepare for the media scrum! Steel yourself for the celebrity circus!

Shall I tell you about it? Will it make you feel better? Oh, okay then. Seeing as we're all here.

The first time I was in Private Eye, Mark, was when young Euan Blair was picked up by the rozzers, drunk and incapable in Leicester Square, aged 16. (Bless!) I subsequently wrote a piece for the papers reminiscing about the time I was fingered by the old bill myself, 15 years old, drunk and I fear all-too-capable, in the company of some young ladies by the bins round the back of Superdrug in Altrincham. (Those were the days, Sue!)

Private Eye held up my shock confessional as an example of cheap hackery, Mark! How very dare they! As if that wasn't cheeky enough, they also chose to put the headline "I was a teenage drunk - it was cool" on it too. (Which, to be fair to them, was pretty much what I was saying.)

But still! The monkeys, Mark! The saucy little sausages!

The other time I was in Private Eye was after I wrote a passionate article in the Sunday Express, defending the right of the popular rap artist Eminem to perform in this country. (This was in 2001, Mark: Eminem was considered subversive back then, and Mr Tony Blair wasn't keen on letting him get on stage at all.) Anyway - Private Eye seemed to find it a source of some amusement that I declared the rapper to be the foremost poet of his age and "the best proponent of sprung rhythm since Gerard Manley Hopkins".

I still don't know why they think that's funny, Mark. He is, isn't he? Any literary critic could tell you so.

So, anyway, I feel your pain. I've been there too. I've suffered at the sharp end of the country's foremost satirical magazine.

The only difference would seem to be that in the case of my bold claims about teenage drinking and poetic rap artists I was basically right... and reading the article they've published about your ticketing fiasco, it would seem that you're, well, not.

Still. Never mind! Onwards! Upwards! Here's to a better week next week, eh?

Au revoir!


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