Wednesday, 24 November 2010

The New Cold War And Strategies To Deal With It.

God, I had a terrible dream last night. I was standing outside the old Labour Party HQ in Millbank trying to hold the line against the massed troops of North Korea, who all looked like mini-Ellens. By myself, so this turned out about as well as you'd expect.

Those marching clones scare the shit out of me. I get the shivers every time I see them on the news, even when it isn't as freezing cold as it is today. They're much more frightening than the Russian soldiers who used to parade in front of Brezhnev* - probably because they look so much more focused. Like a demented band of pre-teen baton twirlers.

Anyway, my encounter with them leaves me with a sense of dread that lingers for most of the day. Mr Warner seems to be having the same problem. He comes to the office to tell me that TV Licensing still won't believe that he doesn't own a TV, and that things seems to be getting worse.

"Things are coming to a head," he says. "Everyone's out to get me now - including the bloody Council."

"Why do you think that?" I say.

"They haven't collected my rubbish for the last two months. Not since I wrote to TV Licensing and said I'd shoot anyone who tried to break into my flat. They must share information."

"Oh, I'm sure that's not the case. It's probably just a coincidence."

I make a note of the last date upon which he remembers his bin being emptied, and promise to see what I can do. Then I stand up and wait for Mr W to take the hint, but he just stays in his chair, fidgeting, and plucking at his clothing.

"Was there anything else?" I say.

Talk about a very bad move. Mr W stands up.

"Do you want to see my ulcer?" he says, as he drops his trousers.

Mr W's legs put me right off my lunch, so I donate my sandwich to the Greg winter stomach fuel fund and send Johnny an email instead. I attach a photo of my new haircut to give him a laugh.

"Wow. You look great," he says. "I'd be really proud to walk into a room with a woman who looked like that on my arm."

"Are you taking the piss?" I say. "I am already having a very bad day, so it's inadvisable."

"No. For Christ's sake, woman, can't you ever take a compliment? Thank you is the appropriate response."

Honestly - whatever must Johnny's wife look like if he thinks my haircut is okay? I apologise, anyway, and blame my grumpiness on the fact that, not only did I spend last night protecting the Labour Party from the North Koreans - singlehandedly -  but I am also freezing to death.

"What the hell are you talking about? North Koreans? And have you forgotten that I live in Russia?" he says. "Generally considered to be somewhat chillier than the UK?"

I have the last laugh on that one, though - as it turns out that it's colder here today than it is in bloody Moscow, although Johnny is quick to point out that it's much worse there in the depths of winter.

"Minus 10 is common," he says.

"Good job I don't live with you then," I say. "How on earth does your wife manage?"

"Oh, she has a mink coat."

The phones start ringing again then, so I don't manage to send my anti-fur response until after the office has closed. Johnny is completely undeterred.

"Yes, yes, PETA* and nasty fur coats - sometimes, darling, you are so predictable," he says. "But just wait until you've tried a winter here without one. You'll do a Naomi Campbell within days."

I'm not at all sure about this last comment. What's with the use of "you will" instead of "you would"? Mind you, with the Cold War that's raging at home at the moment, it's a very tempting thought.

Just imagine: instead of being Molly Bennett, overlooked wife and under-rated MP's caseworker, I could be Molly Hunter, wife of an adoring (if bossy) oil baron. I'd spend my life dancing at embassy parties and swanning around Moscow in designer clothes.

Including a fur coat which, even if I didn't object to it on moral grounds, would make me look like a Ewok. I suppose I'd better don my Primark jacket and head for home.

*Brezhnev, Leonid Ilyich. For those of you too young to remember him.
*PETA - People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, for whom Naomi Campbell was a spokesperson. Until she started wearing fur again.

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