No constable, everything's fine

PETER YORK ON ADS NUMBER 255: YELLOW PAGES

Are men uniquely disgusting, left to their own devices? Do their flats look like tips? I've known some pin-neat, single lads and some very dirty girls, but the sweet old-fashioned idea of men's domestic hopelessness drives a dozen sitcoms and a thousand commercials.

In the current Yellow Pages commercial the Men Behaving Badly idea cross- breeds with a familiar urban folk tale - that of the slob whose usual domestic squalor is mistaken for the aftermath of a break-in.

But you can't beat the old tunes, and it's well enough done. A slob singleton - long hair, somewhere between Neil Morrissey and early George Harrison - in T-shirt fleece, and earring (think roadie, think camera crew) ascends the stairs of what is clearly an Edwardian mansion block in Fulham to his own flat. He's met by a really most profoundly irritating girl on the stairs. She's thrilled to bring bad news. "Your door was ajar, I looked in and I'm afraid you've been burgled." This neighbourly act gives her the chance to look around, to sympathise, to widen her social circle. He looks thoroughly sheepish rather than alarmed at this news. "It doesn't look like they've taken much." he assures her. "They must've been surprised." And while she continues to roam he calls Spotless Cleaners to engage someone for a redemptive three hours a week.

Of course it's quite a nice flat really. Underneath the heavily propped disorder it could be Colherne Court - The Three Sloanes, rather than The Three Slobs - and you wonder idly exactly how he can afford it, who else lives there and all that sort of thing. (But don't go expecting social accuracy from ads just yet.)

Anyway, in the time it takes to think these thoughts she's got to the bathroom. And here follows a stroke of genius, combining her innate awfulness with a 200 per cent end line. She's the kind of secretary who always calls herself an Executive Assistant, who says she works in film production, who wishes she had an altogether smarter boss. All these things are implied by her intonation, hair and body language. And she says: "You do not want to see what they've have done in your bathroom."

Here one's mind races over a range of sanitary defaults, and the poor slob's clearly on the hook because he absolutely knows. The cars hoot and the police sirens wail outside, and it's a Golden Moment.

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