Tales Of The City: A sleepless night with the taxman

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It's 3.28am. Am lying awake seized by nameless dread. Late-January misery. New year almost one-twelfth over, and nothing's happened yet. Only entry in social diary is dental appointment on 26 Jan for incisor filling, and start of Monte Carlo Rally, neither of which lift heart. Reason for insomnia unclear. Could be enormous new plump white square pillows, purchased in Peter Jones in hope of making self sleep better.

Wonder if Prime Minister feeling same way - not re pillows, obviously, but similarly tossing, turning etc because of Hutton enquiry findings. How strangely infantilising is the British official enquiry. Blair on Newsnight dead spit of fifth-form delinquent confronted by grim head prefect (J. Paxman) but grinning in face of pitiless inquisition ("You accept that, by this time next week, you may not be Prime Minister any more?") and trying to butch it out in front of classmates.

Back to nameless dread. Lack of sleep possibly due to lack of creative enterprise. Time to write novel, make fortune, sell in 42 countries, relocate to Capri. What's selling these days? Trendiest novels around are The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, narrated by 15-year-old sleuth with Asperger's syndrome; Motherless Brooklyn, narrated by teenage sleuth with Tourette's; and Vernon God Little, narrated by 15-year-old suspected gunslinger. Hmm. Pattern starting to emerge. OK then - will write pacy thriller starring epileptic 13-year-old sufferer from Munchausen's Syndrome by proxy, set in Croydon. Cannot fail.

Suspect nameless dread may have something to do with Inland Revenue. Deadline of 31 Jan for sending in self-assessed tax form is imminent, but cannot for life of me find bank statements from 21 May to 19 October. Can they be in kitchen under pile of Waitrose pork stir-fry recipes? Must find them. No use claiming they're lost. Inland Revenue people just stand there tapping feet and saying, "Oh yeah?" Goodness. Just realised it's like failing to find weapons of mass destruction, when really, really need some, and having entire country saying, "We're all waiting..."

No, hang on, insomnia probably resulting from fear of recurring nightmare about traffic wardens. Cannot face sleep because of horrible accompanying dream of granite-faced uniformed ladies, all resembling Duchess in Alice in Wonderland, now apparently empowered to fine you for absolutely anything - getting stuck in yellow box in Strand, executing iffy U-turn in High Holborn, flashing V-sign at 4x4 drivers on school run in Dulwich. Will wardens get carried away with new powers? Hmmm. Mental instability profitable area of exploration. How about pacy thriller, set in Vauxhall, narrated by meglomaniacal traffic warden being pursued by maverick tax assessor, who fights back by fining tax person for driving Renault Mégane down Oxford Street during bus-and-taxi-only hours? I think we can safely say that's a bestseller in the making there.

Suspect may be other reasons for nameless January dread (parents having to pay university top-up fees? Barclay brothers? Meat Loaf recuperation concert?) but some of these things are too horrible even to contempl... zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

On the barricades

Nothing could be more destructive to showbusiness than the erosion of live music. And the producers of Les Miserables are playing with fire in planning to get rid of 13 musicians and replace them with a "virtual orchestra" - because, they say, their new home at London's Queens Theatre has only a small musicians' pit. The Musicians' Union will be quite right to strike. And when they do, I shall join them beside the braziers, singing "Give 'em the Old Razzle-Dazzle" in a pleasing light tenor.

Get ready for a Rotten time in the jungle

How inspired of the producers of I'm a Celebrity - Get Me Out of Here! to have signed up both John Lydon and Mike Read for the third Hell-is-other-people stint in the jungle. Connoisseurs of blood sports are in for a smashing time, as the top sneerer of the punk Olympus and the most sanctimonious DJ of the early Eighties square up to each other. Read was, of course, the man who refused to play "Relax" by Frankie Goes to Hollywood on his radio show on the BBC (because of its reference to sexual climax), and saw it go screeching into the charts as a result of his intervention. He sounds like a natural prey for the terrifying Lydon, whose mad staring eyes and flick-knife tongue make him a formidable chap to hang out with in the jungle. Bob Geldof once told me about the time he met Lydon (whom he greatly admires) surrounded by his family in a pub in his native Ireland, and how Lydon had dealt with a stranger who'd approached him with a friendly pat on the arm. Johnny jumped as if electrocuted, turned to face him, switched on his most alarming searchlight glare and rasped, "Don't touch me. I'm sssssss special." The man backed away as if he'd touched an unexploded bomb. How nice for Johnny to find he's got two pop-chart ninnies to play with on the programme. I can't wait to see if it's Read or Peter Andre who first gets his head impaled on a pointed stick.

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