Other bits and pieces

No Evening Standard column last week since it was a bank holiday. That’s back tomorrow (Monday), albeit am doing it fortnightly while am writing new book in Norfolk. Sun Tel column will run every week as usual. Will paste last weekend’s below (will paste today’s Sun Tel column up here later this week), and click HERE for a piece I wrote in yesterday’s Telegraph in reply to the various reports grumbling about Prince Harry and Meghan’s ‘dinner party etiquette’…

Lol. Just read all that back. Clear?


Let me preface this by saying I am very bad at paperwork. Very, very bad. If I’m ever sent an important bit of paper which I must on no account lose, I ‘file’ it in a chest of drawers in my flat which is rammed with wrapping paper, tangled wires, loose batteries and, inexplicably, an old mouthguard.

That said, I decided to buy a new car this week. Not new new, I’m not Jeff Bezos. But I decided this was the moment to swap in my old diesel car for a younger petrol version. What follows is a lesson in how not to buy a new car, although I’m sure you’d be far more sensible about it than me. You could hardly be less sensible.

Off I went to Car Giant, a car ‘superstore’ in North London. For those whose lives haven’t been blessed with a visit, it’s essentially an enormous car park, segregated into sections with BMWs in one area and Kias in another. You look at the cars and find a nice salesman to help. If you agree on a car, you can take it for a spin on the surrounding industrial estate and process through a series of drab waiting rooms while the paperwork’s sorted. Our spell in purgatory, waiting anxiously to hear where we’re off to next, is presumably quite similar. I felt a pang of guilt about sitting in such a place while Greta Thunberg thundered across the Atlantic to save the planet. But I like driving very much and it’s not as if am constantly taking private jets everywhere, eh Prince Harry?

Anyway, I agreed on a car with one of these charming salesman. It’s exactly the same as my old car but with half the mileage and, alarmingly, red, but the salesman told me that was the only option available in my price range and I believed him because, well, these poor chaps get a bad rap, don’t they? I decided to exchange my old car and return to Car Giant the following day with the right paperwork for the swap. I also agreed to an extended warranty on my new car because the salesman was jolly convincing about it. The following 23 hours were spent in the council office changing over my parking permit before returning to Car Giant.

To cut this story short before we all die of old age, it turns out I didn’t have the right bit of paper to sell my old car. I’d rifled through those drawers to find what I thought was my V5 logbook but was actually an old version in disguise. When I returned to Car Giant, they therefore couldn’t accept my old car. This resulted in a complicated afternoon of getting both cars back to my flat again and means I’m temporarily the moronic owner of two cars (sorry, Greta), but only one permit and have had to park my old one in Westfield shopping centre until the DVLA sends me a replacement logbook this week. I’ve also done a bit of googling and, according to online reviews, that warranty is roughly as good as my filing abilities so I need to cancel that now too. What’s the moral of the story? Get a better filing system, any sort of filing system, I suppose, and maybe some of us should only be trusted on public transport after all.


Happy birthday, Tommy from Surrey She turned 121 this week. What an age. She can remember both wars and puts her longevity down to a fondness for eating garden weeds. Because Tommy’s a Hermann tortoise who belongs to a lady called Sheila and is expected to push on for another 50 years. It just so happens that I went to a friend’s house for dinner recently and was introduced to their tortoise. Bob was a younger version of Tommy and the size of a pack of playing cards but very speedy, galloping back and forth across the table for strawberries. He was a birthday present for their eight-year-old son who has already insisted he will be taking Bob with him to university in due course. It made a nice change from going to friends’ houses to meet their new Labrador puppies, frankly.


Have you been invited to a ‘blessing party’ recently? They’re the latest trend for women who are about to give birth, instead of a baby shower with cupcakes and balloons. It’s an old Navajo tradition and if you look them up on Instagram – #motherblessingceremony – you see pictures of pregnant women surrounded by female friends, hands all over her stomach, bumps with henna drawn over them and photos of these ceremonies, which seem to involve strewn petals, candles, crystals and some sort of cactus in a pot. The pregnant lady wears a flower crown and, sometimes, the other women wash her feet as part of the ritual. Hmm, I’m not at all sure about this. If a pregnant friend of mine asked me over to stroke her belly and sud her cankles, I’m pretty sure I’d text her back saying best of luck with the birth and I’d be over in a few weeks with a bunch of flowers.