Tim Blair


New Criterion



Sunday, March 23, 2003

When you're travelling you get hit in the face by facts you'd thought were fictions, or at least half-truths.

I was woken at 2.00 am one morning by the sounds of a man and woman arguing outside the open window of the fetid tropical hovel that had agreed to accommodate me.

"W: You're fuckin well fuckin her! Aren't you!

M: Well, so fuckin what. What's it fucking to you?"

The man sounds barely adolescent but with enough aggression for a rugby forward. The woman tries to match the aggro but can't keep the plaint out of her voice.

"W: You just fuckin don't fuckin care, do you! You're a fuckin bastard!

(sound of a hard slap, on whom?)

M: It's your fuckin fault. I fuckin wouldn't be fuckin her if you didn't fuckin make me?"

And so on for twenty minutes. When our Punch and Judy retire to the nearby disco Uncle composes himself for sleep with the thought that I need to travel to Australia's steamy tropics to be ambushed by the denizens of Theodore Dalrymple's London.

In this open-window region you don't have to be one of the caring professions to see the inside of lives you'd rather avoid.