Julian's week

My friend had to climb out of the Bentley, roll his trousers up and wade to dry land to give me a pi

A woman phoned The Jeremy Vine Show on Radio 2 to say her husband had been hit on the head by the barrier at an NCP car park, but thanks to the CCTV, an ambulance was there before he hit the ground. The time is coming when we will be watched by barely detectable cameras hidden in lamp-posts and walls. If anyone so much as gives us a dirty look, the authorities will be alerted. Our irises, fingerprints and the tautness of our sphincter muscles will be on a national database somewhere and the police will be informed every time we inhale or become sexually aroused. (About every six months in my case, and they’d better get here quickly.)

Somewhere, presumably, some poor soul sits in an HQ watching 35 screens simultaneously, their trained eyes homing in on anyone wearing a hood or looking suspiciously poor. I bet they've seen some sights: people crossing the road or carrying shopping. Anyway, soon our streets will be teeming with desperate Bulgarians. So it's not all bad news. All things considered, I rather fancy being bugged. (Or is that just a typographical error?)

The dog and I went to visit a friend for Sunday lunch. He lives, in some splendour, in a grand 17th-century house by the Thames in Chiswick. You can smell money as soon as you turn off the Hogarth roundabout. Even the paper boy has a title, although his is just one of those glamorous new Asbos.

It happened that, when I arrived, the tide was high and the road and the pavement were under eight inches of river water. I stopped my car at the edge of the flood, and pondered how to proceed. "Don't even think about it!" said a man, leaning out of his first-floor window. "I've ruined several cars like that." "I'm trapped!" I wailed to my friend down my mobile phone. "Don't panic," he said. "I'll come and rescue you."

Across the water he came in his brand new Bentley, ploughing through the waves like a majestic whale. The water flared out each side and the chrome glistened magnificently in the autumn sunshine. Then the engine cut out and the Bentley slowly ground to a halt until it sat silently in the water, much like Vanessa Feltz dozing off in a mud bath. My friend then had to suffer the indignity of climbing out of the car in front of a dozen chortling onlookers, rolling up his trousers and wading across to dry land to give me a piggy back to his place. "You've been here less than five minutes," he complained, wearily. "Not only have you done my back in, but this lunch has already cost me about £200,000." I never said I was a cheap date.

The cast of Neighbours has been in town, filming a storyline set in London. I was thrilled to be asked to play a cameo role as myself (celebrity homosexual, camp comic, poor man’s Graham Norton – take your pick). No Winnebaos for these tough Australians. Both lunch and make-up were administered in the bar of the nearest Novotel. Claridge’s to them, I expect.

It's the thought that counts, as they say. I was on a TV show recently with Jo Brand and David Gest, the cosmetically enhanced former husband of Liza Minnelli. We all enjoyed ourselves, and afterwards David (being American) said he felt the need to express his gratitude by sending

us presents from the States.

"Could I have Justin Timberlake's underpants?" asked Jo. I was too polite to specify the nature of my own preferred gift, but I was understandably full of expectation, watching out for Mr Posty every day. This week, a cardboard package arrived from Memphis. I greedily ripped it open to reveal a small glass receptacle, possibly acceptable as a vase in provincial America. According to the shipment information on the FedEx form it was "promotional material" worth $20. The nerve.

This article first appeared in the 20 November 2006 issue of the New Statesman, Missing presumed tortured