All I want is a dustbin to call my own
`I had to pick my way through Puy lentils and woodcock carcasses to reach my doorstep'
Saturday 27 November 1999
Well, at least that's all over, and with any luck I shall never see either of them again. The chances of Mr Portillo setting foot in his new constituency this side of the new millennium are as thin as the smile of the woman at the exit door of the polling station last night when I told her that I had just voted for Lisa Lovebucket, People's Net Dream Ticket Party. In retrospect I rather wish I had. Who knows, we might have shared the same dreams, Miss Lovebucket and I.
My current dream, I may as well tell you, is to have my very own dustbin. It's not much to ask, but if you live in a flat in Chelsea it's like crying for the moon. Looking down from my bedroom window this morning, all I can see is the mountain of putrefying rubbish outside my front door.
Be warned, Mr Portillo, should you ever think of paying us a fleeting visit in between your ministerial duties, that's the way it works in your new constituency. You put your dustbin bag outside your front door on the appropriate day, and within seconds 50 other people have dumped theirs alongside it. Being Chelsea, it's superior rubbish, of course - you can see this when the dogs have split the bags open and the rats have had their pick. Many's the night I have had to pick my way through empty jars of Estee Lauder energising cream, vintage Dom Perignon bottles, Puy lentils and woodcock carcasses to reach my doorstep.
In the old days we put our rubbish in dustbins in the back yard, having lowered it on a hoist from the kitchen. It was an ingenious arrangement, albeit time-consuming because we live on the fifth floor. If you operated the winch too vigorously, all the rubbish fell off. Then the landlord declared the back yard out of bounds, and we had to put our rubbish on the pavement. I suppose he has plans for developing the yard into a gym or a shopping mall or a multi-storey car park. That's the sort of thing you do if you own a back yard in Chelsea. It's like sitting on a goldmine.
Oh, Miss Lovebucket, if only you and your People's Net Dream Ticket Party had got in, and your dreams had come true. Why, Chelsea might even have reverted to being a pleasant place in which to live. For ordinary people to live, I mean, not visiting American bankers on short-term contracts with Goldman Sachs, prepared to pay pounds 2,000 a week for a tarted-up workman's cottage. I can't honestly see Mr Portillo bothering his head about fair rents for his constituents. Maybe the new mayor will do something about it.
Talking of mayors, Lord Archer was supposed to be running the auction at the charity ball I went to last Saturday night. It was the same day I had seen him at the bus stop with his balloons. Owing to unforeseen circumstances Lord Archer would be unable to attend that evening, said the toastmaster - would we please give a round of applause for his stand- in. "Pity," said a granite-faced woman in purple who clearly knew the charity ball circuit well. (I don't.) "Jeffrey is absolutely brilliant at doing charity auctions. He does at least three a week, raises millions for all sorts of good causes. I do hope this little difficulty he's having doesn't mean he won't be doing them any more."
I never thought I'd say this, but five hours later I agreed with her. I shall probably never go to another charity ball, but if I do, please God Jeffrey Archer runs the auction; apparently he is not only good at it, he's also nippy - and if there is one quality that this particular art form requires, it is speed.
"The wonderful thing about Jeffrey," mused the woman in purple, "was that if the lots didn't reach the price he thought they should, he didn't hang around - he just bought them himself. He's terribly decent that way." That at least should cheer him up a little.
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