Morning Call: pick of the papers

The ten must-read comment pieces from this morning's papers.

1. Mohamed Morsi and the fight for Egypt (Guardian)

President Morsi says his power grab is temporary, writes Magdi Abdelhadi. But history shows that such measures have a habit of becoming permanent.

2. Will Cameron slot in the missing piece of Beveridge’s jigsaw? (Daily Telegraph)

At last, the coalition is poised to end the dithering over properly funded social care, writes Mary Riddell.

3. Obama must do more than raise taxes (Financial Times)

The president should be bold and aim for true fiscal stability, writes Sebastian Mallaby.

4. Bullies and the need for a free press (Daily Mail)

Statutory regulation would mean we lose the best characteristics of the press — but keep the worst, says David Davis.

5. The elite's fear of a vote on Europe feeds a populist right (Guardian)

Rotherham's race rows may be a taste of toxicity to come, says Seumas Milne. Labour support for a referendum would help draw the poison.

6. Don’t sack the manager. Think of Ken Clarke (Times) (£)

Political form, like footballing form, doesn’t really exist, writes Daniel Finkelstein. What matters is long-term class.

7. Japan’s nationalism is a sign of weakness (Financial Times)

If the country looks inward, both it and the world will be worse off, writes Joseph Nye.

8. This bid to force all schools into line will end in failure (Guardian)

The craving for uniformity in public services has become a frenzy, but Michael Gove cannot run every classroom, writes Simon Jenkins.

9. Mark Carney: A Canadian we can bank on (Daily Telegraph)

There is much the Chancellor can learn from the Bank of England’s new Governor – if he’ll listen, writes Allister Heath.

10. For all the misery and nuisance they cause, league tables are a necessary part of public service (Independent)

There’s nothing like doing badly in a league table to make bosses want to make things better, writes Christina Patterson.

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For the first time in my life I have a sworn enemy – and I don’t even know her name

The cyclist, though, was enraged. “THAT’S CLEVER, ISN’T IT?” she yelled. “WALKING IN THE ROAD!”

Last month, I made an enemy. I do not say this lightly, and I certainly don’t say it with pride, as a more aggressive male might. Throughout my life I have avoided confrontation with a scrupulousness that an unkind observer would call out-and-out cowardice. A waiter could bring the wrong order, cold and crawling with maggots, and in response to “How is everything?” I’d still manage a grin and a “lovely, thanks”.

On the Underground, I’m so wary of being a bad citizen that I often give up my seat to people who aren’t pregnant, aren’t significantly older than me, and in some cases are far better equipped to stand than I am. If there’s one thing I am not, it’s any sort of provocateur. And yet now this: a feud.

And I don’t even know my enemy’s name.

She was on a bike when I accidentally entered her life. I was pushing a buggy and I wandered – rashly, in her view – into her path. There’s little doubt that I was to blame: walking on the road while in charge of a minor is not something encouraged by the Highway Code. In my defence, it was a quiet, suburban street; the cyclist was the only vehicle of any kind; and I was half a street’s length away from physically colliding with her. It was the misjudgment of a sleep-deprived parent rather than an act of malice.

The cyclist, though, was enraged. “THAT’S CLEVER, ISN’T IT?” she yelled. “WALKING IN THE ROAD!”

I was stung by what someone on The Apprentice might refer to as her negative feedback, and walked on with a redoubled sense of the parental inadequacy that is my default state even at the best of times.

A sad little incident, but a one-off, you would think. Only a week later, though, I was walking in a different part of town, this time without the toddler and engrossed in my phone. Again, I accept my culpability in crossing the road without paying due attention; again, I have to point out that it was only a “close shave” in the sense that meteorites are sometimes reported to have “narrowly missed crashing into the Earth” by 50,000 miles. It might have merited, at worst, a reproving ting of the bell. Instead came a familiar voice. “IT’S YOU AGAIN!” she yelled, wrathfully.

This time the shock brought a retort out of me, probably the harshest thing I have ever shouted at a stranger: “WHY ARE YOU SO UNPLEASANT?”

None of this is X-rated stuff, but it adds up to what I can only call a vendetta – something I never expected to pick up on the way to Waitrose. So I am writing this, as much as anything, in the spirit of rapprochement. I really believe that our third meeting, whenever it comes, can be a much happier affair. People can change. Who knows: maybe I’ll even be walking on the pavement

Mark Watson is a stand-up comedian and novelist. His most recent book, Crap at the Environment, follows his own efforts to halve his carbon footprint over one year.

This article first appeared in the 20 October 2016 issue of the New Statesman, Brothers in blood