Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. If you think Britain is on its way back to prosperity, think again, it's a mirage (Daily Telegraph)

None of the economy's structural flaws have been fixed and we still face a major crisis when interest rates go up, writes Allister Heath. 

2. Why New York survived but Detroit is dying (Times)

Britain should heed the lessons of how one city shook off its disastrous legacy but another has refused to, says Daniel Finkelstein.

3. A revitalised monarchy fills the chasm left by dreary politicians (Daily Telegraph)

Britain’s Royal family survived its dark days by embracing modernity, writes Mary Riddell. Ed Miliband, take note.

4. Britain's royal family: cut this anti-democratic dynasty out of politics (Guardian)

The monarchy embodies inequality and fosters conservatism, writes Seumas Milne. An elected head of state is embarrassingly overdue.

5. US should support a trade deal with Japan (Financial Times)

Currency manipulation suspicion is based on distant, isolated episodes, writes Adam Posen.

6. Were four killed? Or nine? In Egypt, the deaths keep racking up - and few pay any attention (Independent)

When Mubarak fell the country was bright  with optimism, writes Robert Fisk. Now life is cheap and the future brings only fear.

7. Housing market: build, build, build (Guardian)

The shortfall in new homes has led to bubbles, busts, a lopsided economy and misery for many unable to get on the ladder, says a Guardian editorial.

8. Opposition is to blame for Mugabe’s grip (Financial Times)

Party leaders must unite if they are to unseat Zimbabwe’s president, says Petina Gappah.

9. Message for the Poor (Times)

Pope Francis is helping to repair the Church’s confidence and moral authority, says a Times editorial.

10. Enjoy today, young prince. It's all downhill from here (Guardian)

The third in line to the throne cannot expect to enjoy the slightest privacy, says Simon Jenkins. The media drones are already overhead.

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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