Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Swedish riots: if instability can happen here, what might unfold elsewhere? (Guardian)

A stark rise in inequality has brought about unprecedented rioting in Stockholm, writes Aditya Chakrabortty. The omens for Britain are worrying.

2. Knee-jerkers are liberals in terror debate (Financial Times)

Britain has tightened security laws at many moments without becoming an unfree country, writes Janan Ganesh.

3. Globalisation isn't just about profits. It's about taxes too (Guardian)

Big corporates are gaming one nation's taxpayers against another's: we need a global deal to make them pay their way, says Joseph Stiglitz.

4. Syria: Why Iran has to be part of the solution (Independent)

The real and ugly choice is between full scale military intervention and genuine diplomacy, writes Donald Macintyre.

5. Was Woolwich a crime or an act of terror? (Times)

Some ministers see last week’s incident as part of a crusade against the west – but they are in a minority, writes Rachel Sylvester.

6. Chillax, people, and let the poor PM have a holiday (Daily Telegraph)

We need to make up our minds whether we want politicians to be more like us, or not, says Dan Hodges.

7. A jobless recovery? It can’t be ruled out yet (Independent)

Job creation in Britain is not keeping pace with the number of would-be workers, notes an Independent leader.

8. Actions not words are what matter on Syria (Financial Times)

There is no ‘western’ view on the crisis – there are deep divisions in Europe and within the US, writes Gideon Rachman.

9. My manifesto for rewilding the world (Guardian)

Nature swiftly responds when we stop trying to control it, writes George Monbiot. This is our big chance to reverse man's terrible destructive impact.

10. Iain Duncan Smith is right about spending (Daily Telegraph)

The government should spend more on defence and the police and less on welfare, argues a Telegraph leader.

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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