The truth is out there

Seth smiles. He dumped Carrie the other night. Just phoned her up and said he didn't want to see her any more. `She cried,' he said, `and she asked me why. She shouldn't have done that. A bloke would have had more pride'
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"Do you mind if I go to a coeducational sleepover?" asks 15 year- old Seth. "So long as I don't hear any accusations of date rape afterwards," I reply. "They're big girls, Dad," my son replies, "much more likely to ravish me than the other way round." My father, an octogenarian, telephones. "Women!" he exclaims. "I've just had a call from Lola, the one who went to Bournemouth. She wanted to know if I'd missed her. I said I had. That wasn't enough. She wanted to know if I had really missed her. I didn't know what to say." Nor do I. I'm piggy-in-the-middle and I'm envious.

"How's your love life?" asks the doctor, as he writes out a prescription for some new beta-blockers. "Since my wife died, non-existent," I reply. "Just as well," he remarks. "These are not exactly aphrodisiacs." So I name my penis Shimon Peres, in honour of the latter's limp performance in previous elections. But also in the expectation that, this time, he will at last rise to the occasion. No such luck; Peres loses for the fifth time. I should have known. His destiny is written on his face, which is not a vote- winner; too melancholy, too cerebral, no sign of telegenic sheen. We sympathise, my willie and I.

Actually, it is no dishonour to be shunned by the majority; on the contrary. For the election was but a rerun of a much earlier contest, also lost by the greater candidate. After Moses led the Children of Israel out of the Land of Egypt, they soon hit a few snags. "A fine mess you've got us into," wailed the ungrateful masses, unmindful of his great achievements, and suddenly terrified of the unknown. They rejected Moses, with his stammer, his invisible god, and his distant goal, flowing (so he stuttered) with milk and honey, and chose instead his smooth-talking brother, with his false assurances and his radiant god. The Israelites paid dearly for their error. Moses never led his people into the Promised Land, nor will Shimon Peres, but at least he has a vision of a New Jerusalem, a confederation of pacific states, which is more than can be said for Bibi.

Don't blame my Israeli friends, they all voted for Peres, as did Ruth Bondi, a friend of a friend. She is in St Albans for a couple of days, staying with a wine merchant and his wife. The lady pours wine from a bottle her husband cannot sell, not on account of its taste, but because it is called Chateau Tipsy. None of this is important; all that matters is the blue leather strap on her wrist. It has reawakened yesterday night's dream. I remember but a single image; a woman wearing a Tintin watch. I have such a timepiece; Seth bought it for my birthday. It too has a blue leather strap. "May I see the face of your watch?" I ask the woman. She turns her wrist, and I discover the features of Thomson & Thompson, Herge's incompetent detectives. "Snap," I say. I tell the story to Seth. "What does it mean?" he asks. "Maybe there's a clue in the name of the flics," I suggest, "pointing my heart in the direction of your school." "Don't say it," counsels my son firmly, "don't even think it." "Why not?" I reply, "Miss Thomson is a compassionate woman, and comely." "Dad," cries Seth, "please shut up!" Relationships between parents and teachers are strictly taboo; better to sleep with your mother than with your son's teacher. "Besides," he adds, "you're a cynic, you don't believe in anything, especially the paranormal." "You have stumbled upon a paradox," I say, "there is no one more superstitious, more susceptible to omens, than an atheist."

"In that case," says Seth, "why do you keep mocking me for watching The X-Files?" "Because its heroes behave like suspicious children," I say, "convinced that the grown-ups are withholding the truth, which is probably why you and your chums like it so much." "What's wrong with that?" asks Seth. "Aren't most adults natural born liars?" He's got me there. "Even so, "I say, "there's something rather disturbing about its paranoia, which bears a remarkable similarity to the world view of the freedom fighters who bombed Oklahoma. True, Mulder and Scully don't maintain that Washington is run by ZOG, the Zionist Occupation Government, but they know that someone, somewhere is pulling the strings. Nor do they trust the FBI any more than the militias do. Here's a good subject for an essay when you start Film Studies: "The changing image of the FBI in Hollywood, from saviours of democracy to Gestapo lookalikes." `You're just trying to annoy me," says Seth. "Mulder and Scully are seekers after truth, not fascists."

Most of the girls in Seth's class fancy Mulder. "What about Scully?" I ask. "Do you think she's a babe?" "She's cute," he concedes. "Apparently, the girls in Year 10 think you're pretty cute, too," I say. "I hear they're queuing to sample your charms, now that you've split up with Carrie." Unlike me, Seth doesn't require extraterrestrials to find him a girlfriend. He smiles. He dumped Carrie the other night. Just phoned her up and said he didn't want to see her any more. "She cried," he said, "and she asked me why. She shouldn't have done that. A bloke would have had more pride." "No," I say, "she was right. The X-files may be fascinating, but the Y-files are the ones that matter. Keep asking the questions. Never vote for men who spread straight from the fridge"