Peo­ple are strange

Country Life Every Week - - Spectator -

WAKE up on the morn­ing that Amer­i­cans are vot­ing for the next leader of the Western World with a rag­ing toothache. When I ring the den­tist, I’m told by the re­cep­tion­ist, with whom I’m on first-name terms, that our den­tist, with whom I’m also on first-name terms, has left. For­ever.

I’m rather hurt by this news, be­cause I took one of the chil­dren to see her not that long ago and she never men­tioned her im­pend­ing de­par­ture. ‘She didn’t like telling her old pa­tients,’ says the re­cep­tion­ist, sooth­ingly.

I board a train and set­tle down at a ta­ble seat. Although I’ve never seen him be­fore, I know the full name of the man op­po­site, be­cause my phone has just asked if I’d like to log onto his phone. I wouldn’t. I don’t want this piece of in­for­ma­tion at all. It feels like tres­pass­ing—on a per­son. Per­haps his phone has asked him the same thing in re­verse and he knows I’m called Lucy. We may, there­fore, be on first-name terms. I could lean over and say ‘Morn­ing, Owen’.

The evening be­fore, I had sup­per with Will in London. He per­suaded me to watch a darts match on tele­vi­sion, which, and I still don’t un­der­stand how this hap­pened, I did watch—for over an hour. I watched pairs of men throw darts for over an hour as they tried to get from 501 down to zero in as few darts as pos­si­ble.

‘You have to end on a dou­ble,’ Will ex­plained. ‘You’ve got to ad­mit they’re su­per-skilled. And ge­nius at maths.’

‘Well, they’re not show­ing the skill lev­els of, say, Andy Mur­ray, are they?’

‘I dunno ac­tu­ally,’ he con­sid­ered. ‘If you served 100 ten­nis balls, you’d get more in vaguely the right place than if you threw 100 darts.’

And then he set­tled back to watch Michael Van Ger­wen, a bald Dutch­man who, ac­cord­ing to the in­ter­net, has earned more than £2 mil­lion in the past cou­ple of years.

‘That’s just the prize money,’ Will said know­ingly. ‘And go on Mum,’ he con­tin­ued, ‘you add up triple 20, dou­ble nine, triple 13.’

I was still count­ing on my fin­gers when he ad­mit­ted that he has an app that tells him, if he’s in reach of zero, what he needs to throw. I be­gin to view our son dif­fer­ently. Who on Earth is he?

‘I went to see a talk by Phil,’ he said, ‘at the stu­dent union.’ ‘Phil who?’ ‘Phil The Power Tay­lor, Bri­tain’s great­est liv­ing sports­man.’ Ap­par­ently, Phil is very keen on money and, when asked when he might re­tire, he quoted his agent and his three favourite words: ‘Ten. Mil­lion. Pounds.’

While sit­ting op­po­site Owen, I text Will’s god­mother, who I think needs to know all about how her god­son is shap­ing up. I ask her if she’s stay­ing up to watch the US elec­tions, be­cause I def­i­nitely am. And she replies that she might, but she’s quite busy with her new hobby— veg­e­tar­ian taxi­dermy.

On fur­ther ques­tion­ing, I dis­cover that this means all the an­i­mals must have been vic­tims of road­kill. She at­taches a pho­to­graph of a very flat mole from which she has scooped the in­nards ‘like an aubergine’ and then blasted with a hairdryer be­fore stuff­ing. She hopes to turn it into a keyring.

When I get home, I find Zam pho­tograph­ing a loaf of rye sour­dough that’s prov­ing in a tea towel. He ex­plains it’s his only way to check if it’s get­ting big­ger and scrolls through the pho­to­graphs to show me. Yes, we agree, it’s def­i­nitely in­creas­ing in size. I tell him about our den­tist and Owen and the mole ‘and I think I heard The Don­ald is do­ing well in Ne­vada’.

‘Peo­ple are so weird,’ he says, while tak­ing another pic­ture of his loaf.

‘She at­taches a pho­to­graph of a very flat mole, which she hopes to turn into a keyring

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.