I do not own a passport, because I do not like to travel and my professional life for the last 18 years has required me only to make my way upstairs to my study, which involves standing on much Lego and Transformer parts but no border crossings.
I do not have a driving licence because my mother, a close student and devoted critic of my profound lack of practical skills, negligible anticipatory capacities and reaction times best described as “non-”, long ago forbade me ever to be in charge of half a tonne of moving metal. “You’re basically a mud turtle,” she once explained. “You wouldn’t let a mud turtle drive, would you? You’d put it on a bus and hope for the best.” So that is what I have always done.
I don’t think she ever foresaw that her strictures would play such a vital role in stripping me of my democratic rights, but it’s 2021 and if the proposed new law requiring photo ID to vote comes to pass, so shall I be. Even for one of my unreactive bent that feels like … a lot. I rang my mother to discuss the profound assault on one of the foundational tenets of western society. “Well,” she said. “I wouldn’t let a mud turtle vote either.”
Cheugy. It’s a thing, apparently. Goddammit. Do I have to find out, or is this like the European Super League or the Brits, which came and went without me having to find out what it was or who any of the singing people were?
I have to find out, if only because it’s such a spectacularly nonsensical word – ugly, unanchored, with no apparent lineage or rational etymology – which turns out to be because it likely sprang forth fully formed in 2013, forged in the mind of one tortured member of Beverly Hills high school when she found there was no single handy term for the people laying siege to her mental integrity by sporting basic trends (be they clothing, accessories, home decor or oral tics) as if each one were a signifier of deep, personal idiosyncracy and unassailable proof of a unique, effervescent and endlessly fascinating personality instead of, like, really not being?
Out of this discovery by a teenager that she and others were teenagers, was “cheugy” born. If you need still more clarification – because you are old or yourself cheugy and therefore unable to gain perspective on your problem: putting fairy lights in empty wine bottles is cheugy. “Live, laugh, love”-type decals in your home are cheugy. Proposing at Disneyland is totally cheugtastic.
Bless the Americans and their lack of a class system. You’re being “snobs”, darling, and the word you’re looking for is “common”. But don’t say “common”; that’s vulgar. Also, it doesn’t incorporate the “thinking you’re so special” element that the neologism does. OK, then, America – you win again. Cheugy it is. Maybe we will become united by a common language yet.
There are not many things we have – that we will ever have – to thank David Cameron for, but the light relief offered by the vision of him calling and calling and texting and texting his buddies (as he undoubtedly calls them) at the Treasury and Downing Street in the increasingly desperate attempt to lobby for his paymaster, the controversial Greensill Capital bank, to access loans from an emergency Covid-19 government scheme is one of them. From PR for Carlton TV to pitch man for a now-collapsed financial institution via that strange interlude of being PM of a nuclear-armed country – we see more clearly now the aberrant point in Dave’s CV.
In low moments, I infallibly raise my mood by imagining him trying to catch the attention of all the friends he thought he’d made along the prime ministerial way. All those “New phone. Who dis?” replies. The howling void within suddenly without too. Occasionally I picture it more as the Children of the Cameron-Corn – faces in his own image, smooth as bladders of lard, looking at him blankly. “We simply cannot help you. There is nothing in it for us. Would you have us be other, Father?”
The best thing by some distance about Cameron’s humiliatingly futile and now public shilling for Greensill is that he has effectively worked for nothing (being pre-vested in a tanked company) AND may be liable for tax on the … the … the use of – oh, excuse me, I just must find a hanky to mop up these tears of mirth – the use of Greensill’s private jet as a benefit-in-kind of employment.
I’m not saying it quite makes up for Brexit, of course. But it’s something to chase away the more minor daily glooms. It’s something.
It is with increasing dread that I settle down to supervise my 10-year-old with the week’s worth of homework I should have been making him do each night after school. Exposure of my ignorance is becoming a common theme with us. The maths outran me long ago. Science broached dependent and independent variables not long ago and so I bade it a sad farewell from atop the Hill of Bafflement as its ship of knowledge sailed away into uncharted waters.
I thought I had a little longer with the arts subjects. But now he’s doing the Normans in history and there are too many Harolds/Haralds and Williams in the whole thing and it’s all before Wolf Hall so I’m lost. I’m still hanging on with English but it’s only a matter of time.
I watched, albeit baffled along with the rest of my primary schoolmates, on Inner London Education Authority’s single television wheeled into the assembly hall for this momentous occasion, the raising of the Mary Rose. I watched, equally baffled but on a slightly better television in secondary school, the fall of the Berlin Wall. I watched the London Olympics opening ceremony and revelled in that brief, shining moment when the nation gave the best of itself. But nothing compares to this moment in history: the release of the Friends reunion trailer. Thus it is made official – they will be there for you, for us, once more, the Central Perk gang whose 10 seasons of comedy shaped a generation.
I was there when it began, with Jennifer Aniston as Rachel fleeing her wedding and finding succour with her old pals in 1994. I was there when it ended in 2004. It was the subject of my first (and possibly last, now that I think about it) cover story for G2, as a baby journalist. And now I will be there to see it return, in what is described as an “unscripted episode” with Aniston et al “not in character” but involving a lot of special celebrity guests, including – *adjusts glasses, checks notes* - James Corden and Malala Yousafzai.
Digested week: The One Where the Viewer Begins to Wonder Whether She Might Have Lived Too Long.