The attrition continues with an early-morning phone call informing me that an old friend from university had died from lung cancer. I met Keir on my first day at Exeter. I had been dropped off at my halls of residence by my parents and was mooching around aimlessly on my own, feeling rather homesick. Keir took me under his wing and we headed off to a pub near St Davids station. After dropping in on a fish and chip shop on the way back, he stopped to roll a joint and by the end of the evening I felt that university wasn’t going to be so bad after all. We went on to become close friends, sharing a tatty house – more of a commune, really, as there were 10 of us – and doing the bare minimum of work. After university we lost touch rather – he went to live and work abroad – but whenever we did meet up it was as if we’d never been apart. Keir was a one-man entertainment centre, a person of immense charm who could generate fun from almost any situation. I’m told he even turned his deathbed into a party. I miss him much more than I expected. The list of old friends who have died from a variety of causes is growing uncomfortably long. It feels as if there is someone going round turning out the lights of a house I am not ready to leave. In the dimness, my own mortality is becoming unavoidable.
The BBC reports there has been a surge in the number of medicines that are in short supply. Pharmacists are experiencing difficulties obtaining more than 80 drugs, and the situation is expected to become more critical as the uncertainty over Brexit increases. Especially with man-boy Matt Hancock in charge of the NHS. Obviously the first thing I did was to check through the list to see if any of the drugs I take on a daily basis for my depression are on it. Sure enough, one was. Which presents me with something of a dilemma. Should I immediately rush off to my shrink for another prescription so that I can create my own private stockpile? Or should I take my chances and wait for my current supplies to run out? Obviously the ethical thing to do is to hope for the best. If everyone were to try to hoard a six-month stash, supplies would become in even shorter supply and some people would inevitably lose out. On the other hand, I know from first-hand experience that going cold turkey from this one particular drug is extremely unpleasant, as the first time I tried to come off it I had hideous side-effects. Something I am in no hurry to repeat. So I am going to try my hand at stockpiling and sod the rest of the country. Besides, what’s the point of leaving the EU if it’s not every person for themselves? And if I fail then at least I can say I was one of the first people to have been driven genuinely mad by Brexit.
The Brexit cheerleader James Dyson may have upped sticks and relocated his company to Singapore – maybe his hoovers work better in a low-tax environment than they do over here: we used to have one but it was always a bit rubbish and since then we’ve moved on to the Miele Cat and Dog – but business is still brisk for Jacob Rees-Mogg. I arrived for a lunchtime Bruges Group event at which he was speaking to find a long queue of angry punters, almost all over the age of 70, locked outside. What had happened was that Jacob’s minders hadn’t thought to check the capacity of the room before selling tickets at £20 a pop, and dozens of people – some of whom had made a three-hour train journey to get there – were refused entry. Cue bedlam. Come the glorious 29 March, the UK will be free of these ridiculous health and safety laws and British people will have the right to be trampled to death. The event itself was typically absurd, with the warmup speaker warning of the dangers of invasion and believing a word anyone said. He got a loud ovation. It finished with Rees-Mogg urging the Queen to burn the Reichstag and dispense with parliamentary democracy in pursuit of the one true Brexit. Tomorrow belongs to him.
Despite – or maybe because of – having lived in this country all my life, I am still at a loss why anyone would want to marry into the royal family. Obviously there are some advantages. You can knock another car off the road in Norfolk and a nice person from Land Rover will be on the phone that very evening to apologise for their vehicle having failed to anticipate the accident and offering a free, top-of-the-range replacement – seatbelts optional – to be delivered by first thing the next morning. But I can’t see what’s in it for Meghan, who has given up a career in television to play a thankless supporting role in a very British soap opera in which her main function is to be blamed for not being sufficiently dull. I’m not sure that was ever in her Hollywood script. After a brief flurry of excitement that she was different to the average Windsor – attractive, intelligent, successful and with a black mother – Meghan has consistently got bad press since her wedding. First, she had the temerity not to want to live in the royal enclave of Kensington Palace. Then, she wasn’t sufficiently deferential to Kate. Her latest outrage is that she is single-handedly destroying the planet by serving guests smashed avocado for tea rather than the traditional cucumber sandwiches and stodgy Dundee cake. It won’t be long before she’s blamed for Brexit being a complete disaster.
Boris Johnson and David Davis are in the money. Bozzie Bear picked up £10k for apparently choosing to launch his ninth leadership bid at a JCB factory, owned by the Brexit-supporting billionaire Anthony Bamford, and Davis is being paid £60k a year from the same source for 20 hours’ consulting work. Cigarette breaks included. But other companies are feeling the Brexit pinch. Just this week, P&O announced it was transferring its operations to Cyprus, Sony is moving its European headquarters to the Netherlands, and Airbus has called the government’s handling of the Brexit negotiations a disgrace and threatened to relocate its UK jobs to the European mainland. To counter the drip-drip of bad news, the campaign group Leave Means Leave published a letter from 200 businesses saying they couldn’t wait to leave the EU with no deal. Unfortunately, due diligence had not been done on all of the signatories. There was no record of six of the firms on the Companies House register, two people signed the letter twice, three companies had two directors’ signatures, one company’s name was misspelled, one company had no registered employees and several appeared to have filed no accounts. Of the more high-profile names, John Mills, owner of the shopping channel JML Direct, has been found to be in breach of Ofcom rules and the Leave Means Leave founder, Richard Tice, is stuck in an ongoing row with a US private equity firm after losing a contract to manage a £250m portfolio. Pride of place goes to Edi Truell of the UK Strategic Investment Advisory Board, who offered to pay £500,000 for a hi-tech system he claims could solve the Northern Ireland border problem, despite the government’s insistence that no such technology existed. Nice people to do business with.
Digested week, digested: Spurs avoid a further match at Wembley.