Friday, 8 July 2011

Caught In The Fall-Out From The News Of The World Affair. Somehow Or Other.

Thank you so much, Rupert Murdoch. I am trying to enjoy my holiday.

I'm having a lie-in, in an attempt to amass as much beauty sleep as possible before Sunday night's school reunion, when Greg sends me a text, which I don't read.

Instead, I text him back:

"If this is about work, I don't want to know."

"It's an important message from The Boss," he says. "To tell you that he told you so."

Oh, God. Apparently, Andrew's decided that, if all these other people's phones were hacked, then his definitely must have been - as he's been claiming all along.

"He says that, just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean that the bastards aren't out to get you," says Greg, when I get fed up of texting, and call to speak to him instead.

"Usually, it just means you're mad," I say. "Feel free to tell him so."

I don't know what's got into me. Ever since those few hours Max and I spent on Chesil Beach, work doesn't seem to have the same importance. Or appeal - if appeal is something it ever had.

"Couldn't we just sell everything, buy a camper van, and bugger off?" I ask Max, when he joins me at the table for breakfast.

"And live on what?" he says.

"Well, we're not doing too well at that, anyway," I say. "Not on my salary alone, since you stopped working."

Max gives me such a filthy look that I almost choke on my coffee.

"I didn't stop working," he says. "I was made redundant. Just like the staff at The News Of The World. That's what happens in the private sector. Moaning about pensions is a luxury only public servants can afford."

"It's no fun being a struggling pensioner like me," says Dad, putting aside his latest Thai travel brochure.

I decide the time is ripe to make yet another trip to Tesco. Preferably by myself.

When I get there, I spend ages wandering around the store, looking at the vast range of stuff they sell - and trying not to think about whether there'll be any other shops left for Max to work in if Tesco carry on like this.

By the time I've checked out their stock of stationery, clothes and electrical products, it's almost lunch-time. According to Dad, anyway. Routine becomes very important once you're retired.

I'd better text him to warn him I'm going to be late. That'll be so much easier than phoning him, and letting him give me the third degree.

"In a very long queue. Be about twenty minutes. Don't worry about my lunch. Will cook something when I get back."

I know the queue thing is a lie, but I do work for an MP, don't forget. Sometimes, telling the truth is highly inadvisable.

I drive back to Dad's house as quickly as I can, but it's almost 1:40pm by the time I arrive. And Dad is really not amused.

"Where the hell have you been?" he says. "Your egg on toast is nearly ruined."

He and I obviously do not define the word "nearly" in the same way. I have never eaten anything like that, in my life.

"I told you not to cook me anything," I say, chewing and chewing, but unable to swallow. "In the text I sent you earlier."

"No, you didn't," says Dad. "You just said you were in a queue."

No-one likes to be accused of lying about the thing they weren't lying about. I get out my phone, to show Dad what my message actually said.

He reads it, but doesn't give in.

"I only got the first sentence of that," he says, passing me his phone as evidence. "Look!"

I open the message, and there are all my sentences, as clear as day.

"Huh?" says Dad, when I point them out. "Where did all those come from?"

"I just scrolled down," I say.

"Scrolled down?"

Dad's unimpressed when I can't stop laughing - even after I've explained what scrolling is.

"I don't like using a mobile," he says. "Not to you, anyway."

"Why?" I say.

"Because journalists will be able to read everything I write," he says. "Seeing as you're bound to have been hacked, what with who you work for."

He'll never understand the relative unimportance of an opposition back-bencher, no matter how many times I try to explain. He's got even more in common with The Boss than I thought.

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