« | Home | »

Nosepicking and Other Expenses

Tags: | | | | |

It’s like being a grown-up caught picking your nose and eating it. There you were all alone, absent-mindedly doing what you do – doesn’t everyone? – when all of a sudden you realise that that door is open and someone’s standing there watching you. Were they there when you . . . ? You drop your hand to your side and frown into your book, your keyboard, the clouds outside the window in the hope that either they weren’t there, or that your new move obliterates, invisibilises, what you were doing. But for the rest of your life at any time, waking in the middle of the night, sitting on the loo, chairing a committee, that moment will come to you and you will seize up inside, curl, if it’s at all possible, into a foetal hummock and moan gently.

Can it be otherwise for the MPs who see their receipts in the Telegraph? The moat clearing, the second home flipping, the chandelier, the Tampax – the Tampax, for god’s sake – the Tampax that everyone else has to pay VAT on. Lady Sylvia Herman has returned the £2730 in rent overpayments she received in 2005 from the House of Commons, saying she only found out about it last Monday. ‘I remain profoundly upset and embarrassed. I’m also very angry that the Fees Office did not draw my attention to my mistakes at the time.’ (Drops hand to side, gazes intently out of the window.) Phil Hope is about to write a cheque to repay £41,709 he received for furnishings for his two-bedroomed flat. (Turns page of his book, turns another page.) And all of them walk briskly along the street with their faces averted from the cameras assuring those of us who they’ve suddenly discovered standing in the doorway that they only complied with the rules.

This would all be entirely slapstick fun if it wasn’t for the fact that those who discover nosepickers suffer equal embarrassment at the behaviour they have had to observe, and themselves wake up in the middle of the night wailing at what they couldn’t avoid witnessing.

I preferred the days when our elected persons had wild sex romps and came up smiling, or offered state secrets to unfriendly countries on principle. I would even feel better if they killed someone.

Comments on “Nosepicking and Other Expenses”

  1. Julius Beezer says:

    I preferred the days when our elected persons had wild sex romps and came up smiling, or offered state secrets to unfriendly countries on principle. I would even feel better if they killed someone.

    This final paragraph utterly spoiled the otherwise pleasant literacy sensations I had been receiving from it. The author was successfully evoking the sensation of shame with great skill. How can it be right to end on such a barbaric and lawless note?

    This casual acceptance of human violence seems endemic in the literary world today. Tut tut! Must be getting old, but it left a sour note in my mind, which I did not appreciate.

Comment on this post

Log in or register to post a comment.

  • Recent Posts

    RSS – posts

  • Contributors

  • Recent Comments

    • andymartinink on Reacher v. Parker: Slayground definitely next on my agenda. But to be fair to Lee Child, as per the Forbes analysis, there is clearly a massive collective reader-writer ...
    • Robert Hanks on Reacher v. Parker: And in Breakout, Parker, in prison, teams up with a black guy to escape; another white con dislikes it but accepts the necessity; Parker is absolutely...
    • Robert Hanks on Reacher v. Parker: Parker may not have the integrity and honesty of Marlowe, but I'd argue that Richard Stark writes with far more of both than Raymond Chandler does: Ch...
    • Christopher Tayler on Reacher v. Parker: Good to see someone holding up standards. The explanation is that I had thoughts - or words - left over from writing about Lee Child. (For Chandler se...
    • Geoff Roberts on Reacher v. Parker: ..."praised in the London Review of Books" Just read the article on Lee Child in a certain literary review and was surprised to find this rave notice...

    RSS – comments

  • Contact

  • Blog Archive

  • From the LRB Archive

    Chris Lehmann: The Candidates
    18 June 2015

    ‘Every one of the Republican candidates can be described as a full-blown adult failure. These are people who, in most cases, have been granted virtually every imaginable advantage on the road to success, and managed nevertheless to foul things up along the way.’

    Hugh Pennington:
    The Problem with Biodiversity
    10 May 2007

    ‘As a medical microbiologist, for example, I have spent my career fighting biodiversity: my ultimate aim has been to cause the extinction of harmful microbes, an objective shared by veterinary and plant pathologists. But despite more than a hundred years of concentrated effort, supported by solid science, smallpox has been the only success.’

    Jeremy Harding: At the Mexican Border
    20 October 2011

    ‘The battle against illegal migration is a domestic version of America’s interventions overseas, with many of the same trappings: big manpower commitments, militarisation, pursuit, detection, rendition, loss of life. The Mexican border was already the focus of attention before 9/11; it is now a fixation that shows no signs of abating.’

    James Meek: When the Floods Came
    31 July 2008

    ‘Last July, a few days after the floods arrived, with 350,000 people still cut off from the first necessity of life, Severn Trent held its annual general meeting. It announced profits of £325 million, and confirmed a dividend for shareholders of £143 million. Not long afterwards the company, with the consent of the water regulator Ofwat, announced that it wouldn’t be compensating customers: all would be charged as if they had had running water, even when they hadn’t.’

Advertisement Advertisement