Tuesday, 1 February 2011

In Which Woolly-Headed Thinking Gets Me Absolutely Nowhere Fairly Quickly.

Bugger. I thought I'd got my mojo back there for a minute, thanks in no small part to last night's Newsnight. By which I don't mean Jeremy Paxman's possibly-accidental use of the Jeremy Hunt word, either.

"What the hell are you wearing on your head?" says Greg, when I walk into the office this morning.

"A woolly hat," I say. "As must be obvious."

Honestly, sometimes I wonder about that boy. He's as blind as a bat when he wears those coloured contact lenses.

"I can see that," he says. "But why are you wearing it? It's horrible."

"Because woolly hats are what activists are wearing now," I say. "And, as of last night, I count myself among them. And, anyway, I've only borrowed this from Josh until I can learn how to knit my own."

Greg stares at me, as I pause for effect before making my surprise announcement:

"I have got my political drive back."

"Let's see how long that lasts," he says, as the phones start ringing.

Then he steals my hat and throws it on top of the bookshelves while I'm stuck listening to Richard Levinson  who, as usual, insists on reading parts of the Daily Mail aloud.

Despite this provocation, I manage to resist falling prey to cynicism until lunchtime, when Greg suggests we make an executive decision to turn the phones off and take our lunch-breaks at the same time.

"Want to go for a quick drinky-boo?" he says, before retrieving my hat and passing it to me.

I'm sure there's no need for him to hold it between thumb and forefinger, as if it is something long-dead, but Greg takes no notice whatsoever of my scowl of disapproval. He just keeps talking:

"We can wash away the general hideousness of the mad, the bad, and the criminally insane - before we have to talk to them all over again this afternoon."

"Yes," I say. "But I have to go and buy some toothpaste first, now we've finally been paid. My mouth tastes like hell. I don't think salt is half as effective as Mum claimed it was when she had to use it to clean her teeth during the war."

"Well, d'uh," says Greg. "Of course it isn't any good. Otherwise Colgate wouldn't have made all that money, would they? Anyway, you go to Boots, while I go and get the drinks in. But hurry up."

He looks incredulous when I tell him that I am not going to Boots. And even more incredulous when I ask him to remind me to call Vodafone when I get back to the office - to cancel my contract.

"Huh?" he says. "Why? You're always telling me that Vodafone is the only network that gets a signal in the depths of Easemount. How are you going to phone 999 if you run into Steve Ellington during the next public meeting there? And you love Boots and your Advantage card. You won't get points like that anywhere else, you know."

Greg pauses to let what he obviously intends to be a killer blow sink in, then continues when he sees that I remain resolutely unmoved:

"And I wanted you to pick me up one of their meal deals while you were there. Why would you want to deprive me of my lunch, Mol? Haven't I suffered enough this morning? Why would you do this to me? Why? Why?"

Oh, for God's sake. Greg sounds just like Josh when he gets going.

"Because," I say,"Boots are cheating this country out of millions or squillions of pounds in tax -"

"Allegedly," says Greg, looking around nervously. He really does lack revolutionary spirit.

"Coward," I say. "And get this: I'm sure I read somewhere that the ex-Chairman of Boots is going to be in charge of commissioning for NHS Direct. Probably thanks to Andrew Bloody Lansley. So we we can't let pensioners and young people fight this battle on our behalf - we have to join in and make our views known. Although I am a bit worried I might be allergic to CS gas, given my tendency to Miss Chambers-related urticaria."

"You're bound to be," says Greg. "You react to everything. But hang on a minute, Mol - what's with the royal 'we'? Boots are the only people who stock my hair-gel. And what about Topshop? I bet you haven't thought about that!"

Oh, bugger, I haven't. Until now. Sometimes Greg is so annoying. Where else am I going to find adult clothes that don't absolutely drown me? Marks and Sparks might claim to sell a size 8 but it'd be labelled a size 14 in Topshop. And it'd be called a one-person festival tent in Millets. There's nothing for it, but some creative thinking.

"I shall have to make all my own clothes, then," I say. "Once I learn how to sew, seeing as Mum never taught me how to do that either. I do wish she hadn't been a bloody feminist. A raised consciousness is of no practical use to anyone."

Greg looks at me as if I am insane, but then he didn't have to spend his teenage evenings waiting hand and foot on a bunch of bra-less women drinking wine and eating loads of biscuits while discussing how their lives had been blighted by their husbands and children. (The 1970s weren't half as much fun if you fell into one of those two categories.)

"Anyway," I say, getting a grip on myself. "I'll deal with Philip Green once I've found an alternative source of freakishly-small outfits, seeing as you can get arrested for not wearing any clothes. In the meantime, I'll start with Boots and Vodafone. And so should you. Sod the meal deals, and bugger your hair gel, Greg. This is time to make a stand on behalf of all the working people in this country."

Sometimes I think Pete Carew might be right when he tries to persuade me that I'd make a much better MP than The Boss. Imagine me on an extra-large soap box right this minute!

"Except all those who'll lose their jobs if UKuncut succeed in closing down the shops that employ them, of course," says Greg.

Now I've had three gins, half of Greg's (really horrible) tuna and cucumber meal deal, and the arguments for and against revolution still aren't looking any bloody clearer. Sometimes strategic thinking isn't at all what it's cracked up to be.

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