In which everything is Jo's fault.

Printed 06/11/08

Ladies and gentleman, you are about to witness one of the most significant breakthroughs in 21st century journalism, right here on the pages of your friendly local Herald. While newsrooms full of hacks across the capital have been getting themselves into a right tizzy over the recent downturn in the Britain’s fortunes, your humble yoof columnist has quietly discovered the exact, scientific answer for the current economic, political and cultural climate to be otherwise referred to as Everything in the Country’s Gone A Bit Wrong. Yes, I can now announce that the reason you can’t get a mortgage, or afford an M&S sandwich, or make the odd obscene phonecall to a veteran actor without incurring a whole load of hoo-hah anymore, is my friend Jo.

You can’t get angry with her, or us, though, because it was entirely accidental. Nobody realised that the secret key to the country’s welfare and prosperity was a 21-year-old from Findon Valley who is scared of balloons. So nobody could have predicted that when she moved to France for the year, everything would turn to merde. “What is going on in the UK?,” she’s demanding on my Facebook wall. “ Gordon Brown and David Cameron have opinions on Russell Brand, Tennant has quit Doctor Who, the economy's crashing...I leave you lot alone for 4 months and mayhem ensues!”

We always said no good would come of her abandoning us for 12 months. But the kind of ‘no good’ I believe we were referring to was stuff like being short of her abundant 70s musical knowledge in pub quizzes, or not going round for her mum’s barbeques, or missing her voice in the harmonies next time we want to sing a merry roundel on a train.

Never, in shouting “don’t go to Paris, stay here and eat toast!”, do I believe we added the affix “because you might trigger a massive recession, plunging Britain into financial gloom while two of our best bastions of entertainment are forced to resign for doing what, essentially, is a pastime of 13-year-old girls at sleepovers, and David Tennant punishes us for all the madness by removing himself from the Tardis and his beautiful face from our screens, surely the worst news of all.” I don’t think we did, but I shall check the minutes archive to be sure.

Of course I would never blame her (it would jeopardise my claim on the free Parisian accommodation, for one thing). I’ve already used this space to express my fairly ‘meh’ attitude to the credit crunch, while the fall of Brand and Woss seems mainly to signify the unjust law of life learned by Oscar Wilde a century ago, that being too much of a dandy will always ruin you in the end.* Meanwhile, the Doctor’s departure is causing me considerable heartache, but we can all take comfort in knowing that Jo will be mourning most of all, burdened with the additional guilt of knowing she may be responsible.

What I want to know is: if she comes back to Blighty in time, or possibly across time in a Who-style chase through the vortexes of a parallel universe, will she reverse the effects of her absence, give the Radio 2 boss her job back, banish Neil Morrissey and other sub-par successors from the realms of Gallifrey forever, and make chocolate bars 31p again? If Russell T. Davies scripted it, would that help?

And no sooner had my tears dried than my mother was on the phone to tell me that Mr Tennant himself has, apparently, supposedly, according to something she read in Times2, moved just down the road from me! We might (will) bump into (ruthlessly stalk) each other (he and his loved ones) in Budgens (his back garden) buying tomatoes (stealing pants from the washing line)! So all that time he’ll save not fighting darlek time wars, he can now spend coming round to mine for tea.

And Jo, if that’s not a reason to come home then I don’t know what is.

*Let’s take a moment here to spare a thought for other dapper gentleman who may be next in line for the curse of the fop – they can take Lawrence Llwellen-Bowen, but they’re NEVER having Stephen Fry.