In 1983, I was banned for life from Hockley Golf Club south of Winchester. Long story, and I don’t think, on reflection, that any of us come out of it well.
In 1985, a whole group of us were asked politely by the French gendarmes to leave the town of Cherbourg, and to consider the possibility of never coming back. Again, on reflection, I am not proud.
A few years earlier, I was thrown out of a tea shop in Oban. Different age and circumstances, but similar regrets.
Then, in 2005, I sent what I still think was rather a brilliant letter to the newspapers. The trouble turned out to be that they thought so, too. Not just one of them, but all of them. The Times, the Telegraph, the Guardian and the Independent all received a copy that I had multiply sent on the basis of the law of probabilities and in the hope that at least one would fall upon fertile ground. Unfortunately, all saw fit to publish it on the same day. My sense of achievement was short-lived, when it was pointed out to me that letters are published by newspapers on the basis that they are exclusive to that particular paper, and that each newspaper has a black list, the very blackest bit of which is reserved for people who have been cocky enough to spread it around to the hated rivals.
Ever since that I have been on not one, but four, black lists. And, about once a year I send something off to the Times, just in case the letters editor has had a clean out of sacred cows, and that I have been forgiven. The latest was yesterday, but it was either a crap letter, an irrelevant subject, or I am still in purdah, as it was nowhere to be seen this morning.
So I have officially decided to give up sending them, and privately publish the next nine years worth of letters here (in precis form), so as to get it off my chest.
- Who gives a toss about the first cuckoo? I mean, really.
- Why is it that a Chinese takeaway never satisfies, and an Indian takeaway always eventually disappoints?
- Does it matter that Jeremy Corbyn has not got the faintest plan over Brexit, and that he’s going to be running us soon?
- Or that the finer points of the British constitution only matter to people whose flannel pyjamas are stilled ironed each evening by Nanny, eh, Jacob?
- That there is just something about a Macdonald’s Quarter pounder and a Starbucks flat white, but there is nothing whatsoever about a Krispy Kreme ‘donut’ or anything out of Burger King. Tax avoidance is one thing, but offences against taste are quite another.
- That the US President has a point about China, and a point about Iran, and it’s a shame that he’s made everyone hate him so much that no one listens to him any more.
- Is it wholly irrational to worry that one day the internet will simply run out of space, and all those things that I have shoved onto the Cloud in the last few years will disappear into the Milky Way….
- ….or to fret, each time I am in a supermarket, that someone will make off with my full but unpaid for trolley when I have parked it up by the beer section whilst I go and search for Greek yoghurt?
- And can a society that calls itself civilised, in any conscience, have one single, coherent reason for not outlawing Fixed Odds Betting Terminals now and for ever, with all the evidence it has gathered on the subject over the last decade?
Because sometimes, just sometimes, running a country has to be about more than the potential tax take, doesn’t it?