Belfast Telegraph

Gary, move to Scotland if you really want quiet life

By Robert McNeill

How sad that Gary Numan is leaving "drunken, violent Britain". Mr Numan is best remembered for standing like a robot and singing a song about motor vehicles.

Not unnaturally, he shot to the top of the charts and became a superstar of the late 1970s and early 1980s, a grim period that spawned gross materialism.

None of that was Gary's fault, even if - having found success by winging it - he bought himself a plane and flew across the skies, prompting citizens to point upwards and say: "Look, a prat."

He's matured, however, and now thinks about things, which is rarely a good idea. In particular, he's been troubled by an incident in which yoblets aged 12-14 surrounded his wife and daughters and shouted obscenities at them.

This was in a supposedly quiet Sussex town. Quoth Gary: "We're in the middle of the countryside so you'd think it would be the most peaceful place on Earth but, even in the quietest places, you can't avoid thugs."

This is an astute observation. I've lived in one of the most remote locations in Britainshire - the house even figured in a newspaper picture as an idyllic place to live. It was a nightmare.

It doesn't matter where you go, you can't get away from other people. And other people ruin everything.

If the existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre hadn't said "Hell is other people" first, I'd have coined the insightful phrase.

The recent English riots didn't help, and a bout of touring has opened Gary's eyes to a "thuggish element" everywhere and a persistent undercurrent of violence and aggression, particularly from bald people.

To escape the aforementioned V -amp; A, he's decided to live in yonder America. You've spotted the fundamental flaw in his plan.

But there are many Americas. I'd love to live in one of the polite mid-western towns.

But I wouldn't live in New York, which I visited once in the line of duty and didn't like.

I was sorry, therefore, to read that a New York company has accused British-style people of being "over-apologetic". It's offering classes in Brashness. Apparently, over here, we say 'sorry' up to eight times a day. But why should we apologise for saying sorry? It's nothing to be ashamed of.

I was reading online about Sweden, and it sounds a ghastly place, with visitors denouncing the up-themselves Teutons as the rudest people on Earth. They never say hello, barge into queues, let doors slam in your face, and wouldn't say sorry if they accidentally hacked your head off with an Ikea turnip-peeler.

We cannot allow ourselves to degenerate to the level of Sweden or New York. In Gary's analysis, we already have. But perhaps all is not lost.

Once, in Perth, said to be the politest place in Britain, I had to walk through a gang of yobs.

I girded my loins and raised my arms in the traditional surrender position but, lo, the Ned Sea parted and they let me through saying "Sorry, mate".

I could have wept, and toyed with the idea of giving them a pound to buy sweets or drugs. But I just walked on instead, savouring the moment.

Rather than cross to America and run the daily risk of being shot, my advice to Gary is: move to Perth.


From Belfast Telegraph