Show Hide image

Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. One by one, Labour is losing the arguments (Times)

Because Ed Miliband never apologised for overspending he may never convince voters that he’ll keep control of their taxes, says Philip Collins. 

2. Older people vote – that's why George Osborne's budget is for them (Guardian)

Less than half our younger generation go to the polls, writes Polly Toynbee. So it's no surprise the chancellor is increasingly hanging them out to dry.

3. Russia’s test for America’s odd couple (Financial Times)

Ukraine presents both danger and opportunity to the analyst Obama and the activist Kerry, says Philip Stephens. 

4. The Budget brings out the worst in Labour thinking (Daily Telegraph)

Ed Miliband and Ed Balls decided to bow out of debating any of the actual announcements - preferring to talk about previous Budgets, writes Isabel Hardman. 

5. Popular Funds (Times)

The Chancellor is right to trust people with their own money when it comes to pensions, says a Times editorial. 

6. Politics is in new territory after George Osborne’s pensions revolution (Daily Telegraph)

The zero era of cheap debt endures, but the welfare state may never be quite the same again, says Fraser Nelson. 

7. Tourism overwhelms the world's historic places, but pays no dues (Guardian)

As Venice overturns a ban on giant cruise liners, it is clear that the places people flock to are incapable of preserving themselves, writes Simon Jenkins. 

8. This Spanish initiative should be a lesson to us all (Independent)

Diasporas are a terrible menace, as the Israelis know to their cost, writes Peter Popham. 

9. Bumpy ride for the makers as Budget's lack of consistency could hinder long-term investments (Daily Mail)

If there is a criticism to be made about Osborne’s Budget for the makers it is that it lacks consistency, says Alex Brummer. 

10. Pensioners will have the freedom to spend their savings as they wish – but where will this ‘free, impartial’ advice come from? (Independent)

The Treasury must have remembered the mis-selling scandals of the mid-1990s, writes Andreas Whittam Smith. 

Show Hide image

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