Two weeks in, and it's a strange sensation to be doing a weekly column for a newspaper again. Though I have written regularly for Esquire in recent years and currently write for Car magazine, these are monthly gigs and the whole thing is much more leisurely. This once-a-week thing means a great deal more pressure, made worse by the fact that I keep having these tremendous ideas for things to write about, and then I'm brought up short suddenly because I'm not sure whether I've had some of them before.
Let me explain. Years ago when I was still doing stand-up comedy, before I became a worst-selling author, I was persuaded by sheer greed to do two full, two-hour shows in the same night. The second show turned out to be a really horrible experience because whenever I came to the point where I wanted to make one of my scripted, and rehearsed, off-the-cuff extemporaneous remarks, I couldn't remember whether I had already said it in the first show or not. I was nearly forced to be original and spontaneous: something no comedian likes.
So it is with this column. I keep thinking of ideas and then get the uneasy feeling that I have already written about them in this newspaper years ago or in The Observer or the Sunday Mirror.
Once, in the early Eighties I did write the same column two weeks running for the London listings magazine Time Out. What's more, they printed it and nobody noticed until an irate reader wrote in! (Come to think of it, I also sense that I've written a column about writing the same column twice in Time Out, twice.) The gist of what I'm saying is that if you get a sense of having read something I've written before, I apologise in advance.
So anyway... what about our Prime Minister, John Major, eh? What a spineless tosser! What a git!
Actually, this is not an example of me repeating myself. It's just that over the past few months it's come to seem like we are still living under the cretinous Major regime.
I've tried to like the Blair administration, God knows; most of my friends started to moan about the Government at about 5.30am on 2 May 1997, but I held off. I thought I'd give them a chance. Now, with their stupid behaviour, they've made me look badder than if I were wearing velvet hot pants. And that's made me mad. The Government's going to be sorry or my name's not Madhur Jaffrey. I've excused the Dome, the cronyism, the cowardice over banning fox-hunting, the opportunistic little wars, Baroness Jay's self-satisfied, unelected, fat face... but now I've had enough. I didn't live through 300 years of Tory rule to live through another 300 years of Tory rule in a nicer suit.
One of the main things that reminds me of the Tory days is that there seems to exist the same bias against encouraging anybody to go to the trouble of manufacturing anything. In Thatcher's time the country was supposed to forget about making stuff and was going to prosper in the "service" industries, which turned out to be a brief reappearance of shoe-shine boys and the retraining of redundant Yorkshire coal miners as itinerant tequila slammer vendors round the bars of Covent Garden.
Now the Labour Government is giving it the same old jabber about e-commerce: the laid-off Dagenham car workers are going to make a living off the internet in some vague, unspecified way. Perhaps they'll become Compaqshine boys.
The truth is that to put the fate of the country's health into some new wonder e-commerce shows the same failure to engage with reality as those who reckon that drinking goat's urine, eating Chinese herbs or having their "energy field" interfered with by some unlicensed loon is going to make them as healthy as a schoolgirl with the strength of a WWF star. It just doesn't happen that way. Our ancestors' dawning realisation that if they wanted a three-piece suite to sit on or a Simpsons mug to drink out of then someone was going to have to make it, was hard-bought knowledge that we lose at our peril.
And if you wonder what qualifies me to pronounce on these matters, well apart from being a newspaper columnist - which means that I know more or less everything about everything and am right about more or less everything (apart from fishing and geology) - I do actually know rather a lot about economics: as a sideline I used to trade in Near East long-term debt derivatives, trading ratios on the Frankfurt DAX Exchange, but I pulled out because it became too commercial.Reuse content