Tuesday, October 24, 2006


Remember when Mark Thatcher got lost in the desert and his mother, the Milk Snatcher, cried? It was a time of strong emotions. In my case happiness, mostly, leading to loud bursts of laughter and just a little bit of loud cheering.

Oh no, I’m not proud of it, and of course I didn’t want the young rogue – now the old rogue, and I don’t mean that in a loveable sense – to die: but after all those Thatcherite market-forces, starve-them-into-submission, no-such-thing-as-society, entirely compassion-free pronouncements it was just a little bit pleasing to witness her tears. And anyway, he turned up, and has led a blameless life of goodwill to all men ever since.

(The panto season is nearly upon us and I invite you all to join in a loud chorus of

I have never been lost in the desert and one reason is because I have never been to the desert. I have, however, been to Oldham, and I have been lost there. Twice. The first time was a couple of years ago. The second time was today.

The only other time I have been lost while driving was in Liverpool where I pulled up in a garage on one of Liverpool’s lovely wide roads. Within thirty seconds half a dozen cheery Scousers were getting out their road maps and directing me to the M62. The whole event was rather fun and I went from lost to found very quickly.

It’s not like that in Oldham. The first time I was trying to find a school, where one of our actors was in a play. I had looked at the map very carefully, but they had chosen that week to change a vital road junction and I ended up - - well, somewhere, I never did find out where, but when the time for the play to start and then to finish had passed I found the M62 and ended up at home with a nice cup of tea.

Today I was trying to get to New Moston to visit my cousin, but Oldham somehow got in the way. Then it became Saddleworth, where the air is, I expect, still blue from my swearing, though Emily was remarkably calm. Still, I’ve never been to Saddleworth and the pub there looked rather good. Back to Oldham and after a trip round it, through it and finally out of it I finally reached my destination only an hour and a half late and only having done an extra twenty-six miles.

But please bear in mind that these are the only times I have ever got lost. Every other time, I have looked at the map and then set off and driven to my destination.

So it’s Oldham, not me, that is the problem. Obviously.


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