Why my fishmonger is the envy of top paramilitaries

'I thought it unusual for the proprietors of the Mr Minit heel bar to be carrying Kalashnikovs'
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The Independent Online

It's a little-known fact that the first and second names of the legendary blues guitarist Mr BB King are actually "Boutros" and "Boutros" and that he is the half-brother of the former secretary general of the United Nations, Boutros Boutros Ghali. I have had a friend staying with me at the moment who works for the UN in New York, and he passed that piece of insider gossip on to me.

It's a little-known fact that the first and second names of the legendary blues guitarist Mr BB King are actually "Boutros" and "Boutros" and that he is the half-brother of the former secretary general of the United Nations, Boutros Boutros Ghali. I have had a friend staying with me at the moment who works for the UN in New York, and he passed that piece of insider gossip on to me.

It might be rightly assumed that the United Nations, like all similar organisations, is basically run at the behest of the political, monetary and industrial interests of the Western nations. However, the UN does not have the monopoly on global political influence - there is another powerful force in the world, and that force is the people in my neighbourhood. You see, the thing is that I live right round the corner from the headquarters of ITN, the mighty news organisation.

Now it is the way of these things that when an opinion is needed from a member of the public for ITV news, Channel 4 News, any of ITN's radio stations or for any of their US and worldwide affiliates, then, rather than travelling miles and miles to record an interview, they simply pop round the corner and grab whoever's handy.

Thus, when a GP is needed for an interview on medical matters, then it is generally my GP who is interviewed; when a newsagent is required, then it is my newsagent who gives his opinions to the world, and if they need an Asian, a father of three or a fishmonger, then they grab our fishmonger, as he fits all three of those archetypes. Here's the thing, though: his opinions, the fishmonger's, are completely barmy; everybody's are round here. The TV crews assume that one fishmonger, one GP, one ordinary shmo in the street is much like another, whether they are in Bloomsbury or Bury, but that is simply not true.

There can't be many neighbourhoods, such as mine, that are both intensely literary yet also include the King's Cross vice zone, and I can't help feeling that some strange bits of legislation such as Michael Howard's now-discredited Mandatory High Heels and Leather Mini-Skirts for Ambulance Crews Act 1994 or the Compulsory Lytton Strachey Lessons in Primary Schools (Local Government) Bill 1998 have come about simply because so many supposedly ordinary members of the public wandering the streets have spoken so enthusiastically for them when they have been interviewed on the telly.

Recently, though, things have taken a more sinister turn. In the past few years, more malignant forces than the deranged inhabitants of Bloomsbury have begun to notice that the denizens of London postal district WC1 have a disproportionate influence on world affairs, and they have decided to use this fact to try and tilt things in their own way.

So, in the past few years, right-wing Israeli settlers have opened a shoeshop in our local mall, the Brunswick Centre, and there is a noodle bar in Marchmont Street staffed entirely by colonels from the corrupt, vicious, human-rights-abusing junta that runs the benighted state of Burma (the service is terrible and you're likely to get shot in the head if you complain about a dirty chopstick, but at £2.20 for Singapore stir-fried noodle, aubergine in black bean sauce and a Diet Coke, what are you going to do? I swear, though, if they use that electric cattle prod on me one more time, I'm cutting down to four visits a week).

The first time I noticed something was up was when I became aware of several heavily bearded women walking up and down the Gray's Inn Road day and night, and I thought it unusual for the proprietors of the Mr Minit heel bar nearest to ITN to be carrying Kalashnikovs (only dry-cleaners and Alfa Romeo dealers need to do that).

I suddenly realised they were all members of the Kosovo Liberation Army who would fling themselves in front of any crew looking for the opinions of "ordinary" people on the situation in the Balkans, and, sure enough, two months later we began bombing Serbia and I never got my black brogues back.

My UN friend was en route to New York, having just done a stint in Kosovo, now freed of Serbian domination thanks to the Western powers. I was never too sure about that conflict, and many on the left found themselves split by it. On the one hand, it has succeeded in wresting domination from the Serbs, but, on the other, it has unleashed a tide of refugees and economic migrants on Western Europe, including Britain, of course.

My friend had many stories from the area, including one about a British truck driver who'd tried to smuggle a load of Kosovar gypsies out of the country, hidden under a tarpaulin in the back of his lorry, but the humps created by their caravans gave them away.

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