Plus: season three of Stranger Things is self-indulgent and twee – more Scooby-Doo than Alien.
Losing my comrade Christopher Booker the other day didn’t help. Nor did turning to the once robustly sceptical Sun newspaper this morning to find a spread on how to cut your carbon footprint and recycle. The final ‘reeeee!’ moment (fans of the movie will get the reference) will no doubt come when I next bump into Matt Ridley and he tells me: ‘We really must heed the wise things the Prince of Wales and Greta Thunberg are telling us about climate change!’
Magaluf — Shagaluf as the kids all call it — is the post-A-levels destination of choice for what seems like every school leaver in the country. If you’ve seen The InbetweenersMovie you’ll know what it’s like: charmless, garish avenues of overpriced bars and clubs with pushy greeters, expensive party cruises, grotesque drunkenness, epic hangovers, sunburn, STDs and gallons of vomit.
My plan to cut the BBC out of my life entirely is working well. Apart from the occasional forgivable lapse — that excellent Margaret Thatcher documentary; Pointless and Only Connect because they’re the only programmes we can all watch together as a family — I find that not watching or listening to anything the BBC does is making me calmer, happier and better informed.
I’m also learning stuff about myself that I never imagined possible. Like the fact that I have a massive man crush on the rap star Kanye West. Though I’ve long been a fan of his albums, I went right off him as a person a few years ago when he headlined Glastonbury and played quite the worst, most self-indulgent, dreary set I have ever had to endure: no decent tunes or hook, just Kanye the egotist and some glaring white lights shining full in your face as if to show how much he despised you.
‘An attempted improvement which actually makes things worse.’ The Germans have a name for this — Verschlimmbesserung — and I ran into a perfect example the other day when my power suddenly failed in the fast lane of one of those so-called ‘smart’ motorways.
These are the new breed of motorways so clever and advanced that they don’t have hard shoulders on to which you can retreat in emergencies. No: instead, if you can’t make one of the safe haven pull-ins supposedly spaced every mile and a half, then you get the thrilling (and, you pray, never-to-be-repeated experience) of grinding to a halt in the live lane of a motorway, with lorries thundering towards your rear at 50mph.
The latest from David E. Kelley, who also wrote Ally McBeal, shows he has a rare knack for getting inside women’s heads
Six hundred and thirty years ago, Chaucer revealed in ‘The Wife of Bath’s Tale’ that what women really want is to be totally in charge of everything. With Girl now back home permanently having done her A levels, I can confirm that this is true: no longer am I in control of what we watch on TV, not even when I plead that it’s my job and how else am I going to be able to afford the extensive tour of Magaluf and Bali etc. that she’s got planned this summer?
But I don’t mind really because it means I’m forced to watch stuff there’s no way I would have seen otherwise. And in doing so I become a better and wiser person because of all the fascinating things it teaches me about the female psychopathology.
Cocaine is an abominable drug, by far the most hateful of all the various uppers and downers and psychoactives because it turns you into such a complete moron.
The problem with coke, as my friend, the drug historian Mike Jay, once explained to me, is that nature never intended us to use it the way we do. In its raw, coca leaf form, it’s a handy and pleasant stimulant, just what you need to keep you going on a long trek over the Andes. But in its refined form it’s just nasty, not least because it plays a cruel, built-in trick on you. You take cocaine to get high — and sure it helps, up to a point. What it really stimulates, though, aren’t the pleasure receptors but the impulsive part of your brain that makes you want more and more of something.
How many people do you think died at Chernobyl? 10,000? 50,000? 300,000? The correct answer, according to the never knowingly understated World Health Organisation — in a thorough report released nearly 20 years after the 1986 explosion — was ‘fewer than 50’.
Ah, but what about all the mutant babies who ended up with two heads and webbed feet? What about the inevitable epidemic of cancers? Well, yes, it’s true that 4,000 more cases of thyroid cancer were loosely attributable to Chernobyl, mainly in children and adolescents. But the survival rate was 99 per cent.
If I’ve been incredibly rude to you or snappy or tearful lately, if I’ve taken offence where none was intended, or I’ve wildly overreacted to something you said on social media, I do apologise. It wasn’t the real me you experienced in those moments: it was the mad brain that sometimes seizes control of me.
The reason I have these episodes — as I keep having to explain to my bemused victims, after the event — is that I’m currently undergoing intensive medical treatment which gives me these weird and powerful mood swings. Known as the Perrin Technique, the treatment — which involves regular massage of the limbic system — has been very successful at dealing with conditions including chronic fatigue syndrome and even, I hope, Lyme disease. Because the limbic system controls your emotions the side effects, as in my case, can be bizarre beyond belief.
Plus: why a cultish New Zealand horror-comedy fly-on-the-wall mockumentary about vampire housemates is worth your time.
After its new costume drama You Go, Girl! (Sundays) about how amazing, empowered and better-than-men women are, especially if they are lesbians, the BBC ran its first ever Nike ad. At least that’s what I thought initially: rap music, moody shots of athletes, very high production values. Then I saw they were all grim-faced women and the word ‘RISE’ in flames and I thought: ‘Big new drama series? About girls who’ve been sucked into this very strict Christian cult, a bit like the Handmaid’s Tale, maybe?’ Then I noticed they were all wearing football kit and kicking balls around, and went back to my original Nike idea. Finally came the big reveal. It said: ‘#CHANGE THE GAME. FIFA WOMEN’S WORLD CUP 2019.’
My least favourite part of Peter Jackson’s magisterial Lord of the Rings trilogy is the half hour of toecurling mawkishness at the end where you have to endure all the surviving characters getting married and living happily ever after. Game of Thrones was inevitably going to have a similar problem. After 70 episodes of intrigue, rape, incest, massacres, betrayal, quests, duels, epic battles, existential struggles with the forces of the undead, the healing – and sometimes clunky and twee – resolutions in the 71st were always going to be a bit of an anticlimax.
But how could it be otherwise?
That’s why I’m going to disagree quite strongly with all those critics who are dissing the series finale as the most embarrassingly lame thing ever.