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Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Russia is a hostile power, but this is not a new cold war (Guardian)

The west needs to step back from the Ukraine crisis and devise a new strategy of containment towards Vladimir Putin, says Martin Kettle. 

2. Man Utd and Britain share a problem – debt (Times)

The football club is paying off its borrowings, writes Tim Montgomerie. But for Labour, the deficit will force tough decisions on tax and spending.

3. Boris, George and selfish scheming that could hand Labour the keys to Downing Street (Daily Mail)

The Mayor and the Chancellor should leave their machinations until after the election, says Stephen Glover. 

4. This war on 'Islamism' only fuels hatred and violence (Guardian)

Tony Blair's anti-democratic tirade chimes with David Cameron's toxic manoeuvring at home and in the Muslim world, says Seumas Milne. 

5. The mysteries of the UK economy unravel (Financial Times)

Three almost universally held ‘truths’ will wither when new standards are adopted, writes Chris Giles. 

6. Rebellion is brewing against the elite that has ruined Europe (Daily Telegraph)

"The idiot in Brussels" and his like may keep their jobs for now, but trust is evaporating fast, says Peter Oborne.

7. Enjoy the sushi and hot noodles while you can, Barack – the Chinese will remain cold (Independent)

For two of the countries on his itinerary, the timing is especially poor, says David Usborne. 

8. London borough elections: Britain's other other country (Guardian)

London elected 14 more MPs than Scotland in 2010 – this other country is under parliament's nose, notes a Guardian editorial. 

9. Kim turns into the Macbeth of North Korea (Times)

Planning is already in place in case the leader’s brutality leads to his assassination and the collapse of the regime, writes Michael Burleigh. 

10. Latin rebels turn to pragmatism (Financial Times)

But take Venezuelan and Argentine reform with pinch of salt, says an FT editorial. 

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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