It's true - Halifax really is another Los Angeles

'In the US, stuff costs the same in dollars as it does in pounds here, but then even their pets carry guns'
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The Independent Online

Pssst... no, don't turn your head, I said, don't turn your head! Keep looking directly at me. OK, now he's not looking, he's just smiling vacantly, so slowly look to your left, all casual, like. All right, see that bloke over there, on the opposite page? Baldy, roundy face, nasal smile? Yes, him. Well he claims that he's the Mayor of London! As if! What nonsense! Of course he's not. I am!

Pssst... no, don't turn your head, I said, don't turn your head! Keep looking directly at me. OK, now he's not looking, he's just smiling vacantly, so slowly look to your left, all casual, like. All right, see that bloke over there, on the opposite page? Baldy, roundy face, nasal smile? Yes, him. Well he claims that he's the Mayor of London! As if! What nonsense! Of course he's not. I am!

Who can forget that amazing day in May when I was elected with such a fantastic turn-out; London partied hearty that night, I can tell you. The dark days of Thatcher were behind us at last; mime artists who had been in hiding since she dissolved the old GLC came out of their cellars, white-faced and blinking into the daylight. And all this despite the fact that the Labour hierarchy wanted its own candidate, Frank Carson, instead of me, with the result that I was expelled from the party.

Since then, of course, I have kept a lower profile, gathering my people around me and planning my policies. I must say things are going well; my plans, for example, for the "London Hoppa", a system that will allow people to travel across London via a network of giant trampolines, are well advanced. This system will benefit both the nation's health and the UK trampoline industry, and - before anybody asks - I resigned my position as chief adviser to the British Trampoline Corporation some months ago.

Under my guidance, the capital is also about to enter a building renaissance unseen since, well, I was going to say the Renaissance, but it'll be better than that; it's actually going to be as good as the original Naissance itself. For example, after the London Eye, Lord Foster is now going to build a green glass stump, which will be known as "The London Diseased Penis", on the site of the silly old marble-clad, high-Edwardian Baltic Exchange.

Mostly, though, I would like to take this opportunity to counteract whatever that loon on the opposite page is saying by stating that London is not the greatest city in the world. This may seem an odd thing for the Mayor to say, but before you get too worried, I would also state that nor is Rio, Los Angeles, Cairo, Phuket or Yokohama (though they are excellent tyres and their trampoline rubber is second to none). No city is the greatest in the world: what they all are is different, but their qualities add up so that they are all the same.

This also applies to countries. Let me explain further: The hoo-hah that we had last week about the price of petrol was prompted by the fact that British hauliers looked across at France and saw that diesel was a lot cheaper over there; they then started getting their transmissions in a twist about unfair competition and decided to take action.

What they didn't take into account was that direct taxes, for example, are much higher in France than in the UK, and also that there are extremely high tolls on the motorway, so that if you were to drive from one end of France to the other it would cost something like £80, as opposed to nothing in the UK.

My point in essence, therefore, is that it's really all swings and roundabouts, that all countries, outside perhaps the terrible dictatorships such as Burma and Canada, while they all have different qualities, are in the end all the same. So you might say that France has the cheap petrol and the fine food, but it is also terribly reactionary and conservative over there, and they revere Charlie Chaplin.

The United States has stuff at Gap that costs the same in dollars as it does in pounds over here in Islington, and you get free crackers and a little cake with your soup, but on the other hand even domestic pets in America carry guns, they are destroying the planet and their own minds with their consumeristic greed, and their government's treatment of Charlie Chaplin was a disgrace. Cities are the same: Rio has Copacabana beach and girls in conceptual bathing costumes, but if you go there you will almost certainly be murdered plus it can get a bit sticky at the height of summer.

Do you see where I am going with this? Many of us in this country are like the truckers in that we have a tremendous feeling that in some other country life is better. We berate ourselves because the health service seems better in Italy (or, indeed, Nigeria) than here, but if you add it all up, things aren't better, they just stack up differently.

Thus if you tabulate all the pluses and the minuses, you'll find that you are really as well off at home in Halifax as you are anywhere else in the world, meaning you don't need to protest about high fuel prices, and can I come back into the Labour Party now please?

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