Morning Call: the pick of the papers

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

Cameron is right about Leveson. This is a Rubicon we must not cross (Guardian)

Simon Jenkins argues against statutory underpinning for press regulation.

 

Carney will gain by exploring the territory (Financial Times)

 

Adam Posen writes that the new Bank of England governor will have to prioritise open debate and public engagement.

 

Nick Boles wants to build on the greenbelt, but it's too soon for us to admire man-made landscapes (Independent)

 

Tom Sutcliffe explores the aesthetics of nature and human development.

 

With Ukip's surge, do we still have a progressive majority? (Guardian

 

John Harris argues that Ukip's strong by-election results indicate widespread distrust of politicians.

 

Mick and Sonny are still rockin' on, but will Madonna and Robbie last as long? (Independent

 

David Lister asks why age expectations are different for musicians in rock, jazz and blues.

 

So what happened to your defence of liberty, Harriet Harman? (Telegraph

 

Dan Hodges argues that Labour's support for Leveson is driven by a desire for political revenge.

 

Keep the kids in Beer St, not Vodka Plaza (Times) (£) 

 

Janice Turner argues that education, not raising alcohol prices, will cut down on binge-drinking.

 

The Chancellor George Osborne's alarming device is just the weapon for a country at war (Telegraph

 

Charles Moore says that Quantitive Easing has prevented the crisis from becoming even deeper.

 

Here's what to do in the Middle East: nothing (Times) (£) 

 

Matthew Parris says Britain should intervene less in overseas conflicts.

 

Morsi has squandered Egypt's goodwill (Financial Times

 

Roula Khalaf and Heba Saleh explain that Egypt's president is no longer a unifying figure.

Getty
Show Hide image

As the strangers approach the bed, I wonder if this could be a moment of great gentleness

I don’t know what to do. In my old T-shirt and M&S pants, I don’t know what to do.

It’s 1.13am on an autumn morning some time towards the end of the 20th century and I’m awake in a vast hotel bed in a small town in the east of England. The mysterious east, with its horizons that seem to stretch further than they should be allowed to stretch by law. I can’t sleep. My asthma is bad and I’m wheezing. The clock I bought for £3 many years earlier ticks my life away with its long, slow music. The street light outside makes the room glow and shimmer.

I can hear footsteps coming down the corridor – some returning drunks, I guess, wrecked on the reef of a night on the town. I gaze at the ceiling, waiting for the footsteps to pass.

They don’t pass. They stop outside my door. I can hear whispering and suppressed laughter. My clock ticks. I hear a key card being presented, then withdrawn. The door opens slowly, creaking like a door on a Radio 4 play might. The whispering susurrates like leaves on a tree.

It’s an odd intrusion, this, as though somebody is clambering into your shirt, taking their time. A hotel room is your space, your personal kingdom. I’ve thrown my socks on the floor and my toothbrush is almost bald in the bathroom even though there’s a new one in my bag because I thought I would be alone in my intimacy.

Two figures enter. A man and a woman make their way towards the bed. In the half-dark, I can recognise the man as the one who checked me in earlier. He says, “It’s all right, there’s nobody in here,” and the woman laughs like he has just told her a joke.

This is a moment. I feel like I’m in a film. It’s not like being burgled because this isn’t my house and I’m sure they don’t mean me any harm. In fact, they mean each other the opposite.

Surely they can hear my clock dripping seconds? Surely they can hear me wheezing?

They approach, closer and closer, towards the bed. The room isn’t huge but it seems to be taking them ages to cross it. I don’t know what to do. In my old T-shirt and M&S pants, I don’t know what to do. I should speak. I should say with authority, “Hey! What do you think you’re doing?” But I don’t.

I could just lie here, as still as a book, and let them get in. It could be a moment of great gentleness, a moment between strangers. I would be like a chubby, wheezing Yorkshire pillow between them. I could be a metaphor for something timeless and unspoken.

They get closer. The woman reaches her hand across the bed and she touches the man’s hand in a gesture of tenderness so fragile that it almost makes me sob.

I sit up and shout, “Bugger off!” and they turn and run, almost knocking my clock from the bedside table. The door crashes shut shakily and the room seems to reverberate.

This article first appeared in the 12 January 2017 issue of the New Statesman, Putin's revenge