Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Osborne economics is not an invincible force of nature (Guardian)

Although many appear resigned to life under this dysfunctional capitalism, there is a way to make the system less inhuman, says John Harris.

2. All coups end in petty tyranny, however good the intentions (Daily Telegraph)

Britain should scorn the idea that military rule in Egypt is the 'least bad’ option, says Daniel Hannan.

3. We have another option in Egypt: to do nothing (Guardian)

We want to avoid another Syria but intervention could prove counter-productive, writes Oliver Miles. Britain should push for a diplomatic solution.

4. No, this is not the road to recovery. It's the road to Wongaland (Guardian)

The notion that the Bank of England base rate is dominant and we should all go shopping has already been punctured, writes Ann Pettifor.

5. Britain's involvement in the EU is too entrenched to achieve any reform (Daily Mail)

To break free and set our own terms requires an Act of Parliament to repeal the European Communities Act and all connected statutes, writes Robin Harris.

6. One year on, Marikana is emblematic of South Africa’s woes (Independent)

In the ANC’s 19 years in power, little has been done to address inequalities, says an Independent editorial.

7. The police keep firing; the bodies pile up. In Cairo, bloodbaths are now a daily occurrence (Independent)

There can be no excuse for the police whose duty is to protect all Egyptians, says Robert Fisk.

8. Conversation dies. Smartphone to the rescue (Times)

It’s not necessarily rude to play with your phone instead of talking, writes Matthew Parris. It’s just a way of relieving the pressure.

9. The Conservative Party needs to be more inviting (Daily Telegraph)

It's no wonder the Tories are losing members when Conservative associations appear to be stuck in the Fifties, writes Graeme Archer.

10. Japan’s past and future meet at Zero (Financial Times)

Controversy over a new film highlights the change in Japanese attitudes since the 1990s, writes David Pilling.

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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