Dig for victory


Just back from snowy Wiltshire, whence I carted the first batch of Christmas presents. Carefully added to the pile was my dad’s present, which he received a week early – Yak Trax!

Other highlights of the weekend: watching the Somerfield juggernaut get stuck in the town square. Suddenly there were faces at upper windows and shops emptying as grinning customers gathered on the pavements to watch the whirr and shower of an artic-going-nowhere. The driver was phlegmatic, he just sat there impassively revving and roaring until his tyres had planed down to the tarmac and away he went.

Another highlight was more of a not-such-a-lowlight, as my dad got me out of bed this parky morn to help him dig out the car. He didn’t want to do much digging in case he had a heart attack (why? He’s never had the slightest heart trouble) but it seemed rude to point this out (‘Dig faster, Dad! Faster!’). Y’see, his real problem is the same as my mum’s, and it’s nothing to do with a dicky ticker: they read The Times, and The Times is a frigging awful paper. As when anyone says such things, that simply means that I don’t like it. But now we’ve established that, I feel free to say it again. The Times is a frigging awful paper.

How do I know? Because it makes my dad murmur things like, ‘But does multiculturalism really work? Some of these people are criminals.’ Would those be the johnny foreign criminals who come in and spoil the Garden of Eden that constitute the rougher parts of Salisbury, where you can leave your XBox by an open window and pin tenners to the hedge? Where deferential street urchins run errands and women don’t hide bruises?

The paper is also sexist, right-wing and it gloats revoltingly, appallingly, over wealth, particularly the untaxed kind. Though that is skillful accounting, it says here, not sharp practice.

Its other winning characteristic is its apparently unslakable desire to tell elderly men how they’re going to die. Heart attacks, prostate cancer, drinking too much coffee, not drinking enough coffee, those boys are surrounded by perils. And it seems that shovelling snow is a one-way ticket to the great tax haven in the sky. I haven’t seen the bit where they suggest making your daughter do the heavy lifting, but my dad’s a resourceful chap and the resource he was full of this weekend happened to be me.

In the event, the snow was so powdery I was able to swoosh it away without much effort but with maximum appearance of effectiveness, leaving me free to lean on the shovel for a bit and watch my dad spinny-spinny before surging off down the lane and onto the gritted road. Huzzah!


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