Belfast Telegraph

Lindy McDowell: All couples have rows... fortunately, though, the vast majority don't have snooping neighbours taping them

Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds
Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds
Addiction battle: Paul Gascoigne

By Lindy McDowell

I've just done a Boris. Or maybe it should be a Carrie. Either way I'd be surprised if the neighbours haven't already taped it on an iPhone and sent it to The Guardian. In my case it wasn't wine on the sofa. It was E16 on the washing machine.

I'd been sitting here about to write this column when Jim tells me there's a problem with the washing machine. What sort of problem?

"You need to look at it," he says. I look at it. It says E16 and the door won't open. "Where's the handbook with information about the machine?" he asks. How should I know? It's two years old. Things get lost in that time.

"Is it covered by insurance?" Again how should I know? We pay insurance (by direct debit) on lots of things. I've no idea which is which. Besides, there are clothes in the machine which we need out now.

I Google it. There is lots of helpful advice in a language I don't understand about heating elements and pumps and other stuff. Why can't online experts give advice aimed at those of us who generally have no idea what experts are talking about?

"Is the front panel warming up?" asks one.

No, but the row is.

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One expert advises switching the machine off for 15 minutes so that it can reset itself.

In the 15 minute waiting period we tell each other what we think of each other's failings in the electrical engineering and organisation of paperwork departments.

We do this very, very loudly.

Finally, we switch the thing back on. It's going like a song.

So all is peace and goodwill again.

But it was a loud row and you're always aware on these occasions (or more precisely immediately afterwards) that someone nearby could have been tuning in and wondering: "What the hell?"

That said, I think most of us can recognise a "marital" when we hear it. And I'm pretty certain the couple who taped Boris and Carrie having a bit of a ding-dong knew it was just that.

A harmless row that would blow over without the involvement of the Metropolitan Police - who you would think currently have enough on their plate dealing with the horrific problem of knife crime in the capital.

This was a shameful episode, but the shame belongs to the couple who recorded it (most likely because they can't stand Boris and his politics).

Some argue that the couple had no option but to call the police since it could have been a case of domestic violence. It's an argument that trivialises a particularly abominable crime because, as I say, I doubt the pair truly thought it was. Even after they'd been assured by the police it wasn't, they passed their recording on. Scoring a point against the Tory was the whole point of taping the row so let's not confuse mean-spirited with public-spirited.

Besides, what of the 31-year-old woman they'd inferred they were so concerned about? Not very neighbourly or caring their subsequent treatment of her.

For the record I'm not a Boris fan either. I think the obviously staged "making up" pic released the next day was cringeworthy and ludicrous. Does he take people for fools?

All he had to do was talk about the row when asked. People would have empathised. Boris Johnson's problem is that he's not answering questions. Not just about his undeniably messy private life. But about the specifics of his Brexit strategy.

And that is more worrying than the issue of how to remove wine stains from upholstery. But the nasty neighbours have done themselves no favours either. You wouldn't want to move in next door to that pair. They are the 21st century of what used to be called net-curtain twitchers. They need to get a life. Not a recording device.

Because actually there's nothing wrong with letting off a bit of steam now and again.

Unless it's coming from the washing machine...

Dogg’s abuse is no help to Gazza

American rapper Snoop Dogg has been roundly criticised this week after he posted on Instagram pictures of himself and footballer Paul Gascoigne.

At age 20 both men looked fresh-faced and healthy.

At the age of 47, Snoop Dogg is a man who has aged well. At the same age Gazza looks worn and wretched.

The caption the rapper uses compares “alcohol abuse” (ie Gazza) to “marijuana abuse” (himself). Snoop Dogg, it goes without saying, is an enthusiastic advocate of the drug.

Those photographs, though, prove only that the rapper is ill-informed and insensitive.

Gascoigne, as all the world knows, has battled for years with alcoholism and mental health problems.

He’s a sick man who deserves sympathy and help — not being held up as an example to be sneered at re: the negative effects of alcohol addiction.

And it is addiction that is the issue. A few days ago this paper carried a shocking photograph showing a young couple in Belfast city centre comatose from the effects of who knows what, their baby in the buggy beside them.

It is a reflection of the massive and very visible problem we now have here. And it’s heartbreaking. The many users on the streets, the defendants brought before courts with lawyers urging that they be sent to prison because they need saving from their addiction.

Prison isn’t the answer. I’m not sure what the answer is, but I do know it’s not ridicule, condemnation or contempt. Or posting pics online to make an argument, Mr Snoop Dogg. That doesn’t make you look good.

It's time for cabin crew to belt up

I've always wondered about this - and on a flight this week it occurred to me again. During the health and safety demo, why is it that all airlines show passengers how to close and then open a seatbelt? Surely there is no traveller on a plane in this day and age who doesn't know how to do up a seatbelt? There would have been one in the car that brought them to the airport. So why is it always part of the demo?

Too much information.

2.4m reasons to query royal bill

This week we learn that Meghan and Harry of Sussex have spend a cool £2.4m (so far) revamping their modestly named new billet Frogmore Cottage.

This is a considerable sum, especially since you and I, the taxpayers, are picking up the tab. So what are we getting for our money? Who can tell? We're unlikely to be invited round to admire the new curtains and vegan paintwork. But why shouldn't we have a say? More to the point, shouldn't we get a more detailed breakdown of what precisely that £2.4m was spent on?

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