Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Life on Mars

I don’t often write to newspapers but this week I wrote to The Times, with a slightly tongue-in-cheek response to a letter. And they published it today! I am rather chuffed.

This is what I wrote:

Dear Sir

Richard Kinley points out (Letter, Feb 22) that, statistically, the most dangerous drivers are young men, and suggests raising the age limit for a driving licence to 21 to cut congestion on the roads and increase safety.

Surely the answer is to raise the age limit to 21 for men and leave it at 17 for women? This will reduce traffic congestion and raise the average standard of driving at the same time.

I decided to show my tiny bit of fame to the Communist and my mother, having previously canvassed my family as to the Communist’s response: we knew my mother’s first response would have to remain unrecorded, as she can never get a word in when the Communist is in full flight

The bets, we decided, should be placed on one of two reactions:

a) What are you doing writing to that filthy Murdoch rag The Times? You should have written to the Morning Star instead.


b) What are you doing writing about that sort of thing for? What about Blair, or Iraq?

I showed them the letter, and braced myself. The reply was unexpected:

“Oh look, that’s you. - What’s happened to Life on Mars?”


Life on Mars. Nine o’clock. It was good last week.”

(I digress slightly to say that yes, it was good last week, with one of the actors I work with, Steve Evets, excellent as the baddie Dickie Fingers)

The Communist continued: "It’s in the Radio Times. But it’s not in the paper. Why not? What’s happened to it?”

“I think it’s been replaced by Match of the Day,” I said.

Match of the Day? Instead of Life on Mars?”

“Yes, I think so. I expect they’ll show Life on Mars another time.”

My mother joined in, bringing her favourite sport with her - she loves rugby.

“Hah! Soccer! They never do that for rugby, do they? You wouldn’t get rugby replacing Life on Mars, would you?”

- - And by now we were in our usual Alan Bennett-style conversation - - ah! Sic transit gloria mundum, eh?


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