HERE I sit, filling with tea and thoughts while waiting for the man from Wolverhampton by way of Nigeria and Venice. Possible topics bob on the morning tide.
Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab floats into view with his announcement that he’d never realised how important the Dover-Calais crossing was to Britain. How charming these arch-Brexiteers are, swearing everything will be hunky-dory Empire Mark II, then stopping to notice the sea and all those ships.
Poor man, no one ever told him he lives on an island.
Raab raises undesired memories of that woman who is Northern Ireland secretary. What’s she called? A quick Google offers the subject title: ‘Northern Ireland Secretary ignorance.’ This nudges my Google-shot brain towards a name: Karen Brady, that’s her. Brady hit the headlines – or kind of walked into them, as you might when banging your head on a low-beam – when she cheerfully admitted that she’d never realised just how sectarian Northern Ireland was.
There’s Raab suddenly spotting water, water everywhere and Brady coming over all “well blow me down” for discovering that the most sectarian part of Britain is, you know, a bit divided.
Where do we find these people?
Also bobbing in the tidal scum is the latest row in the US between Donald Trump and the press. At a post mid-term election press conference, CNN reporter Jim Acosta had a fiery stand-off with the president. This ended with a now-notorious moment in which an intern attempted to grab the mic from Acosta and he tried to hold onto it.
That’s what appears to have happened, although team Trump declared that Acosta had tried to assault the young woman – and then revoked his pass. The White House shared a video on social media in support of its case, only to stir accusations that the shared video had been edited to make Acosta’s actions appear more aggressive than they were.
And the madness goes on.
Here’s a thought. As Trump hates the media so much, apart from Fox News saying how great he is, why don’t all the other reporters walk away and refuse to attend his so-called press conferences, where all he does is spout lies and lash out at the media (the “enemies of the people” in tarnished Trump-speak)?
Go on, leave the room. Better that than standing idly by as Trump thuggishly insults you – and, in a hostile symbiosis, you convey his appalling behaviour to the word. But if you plan on staying, stick up for your braver colleague rather than sitting on your hands and your digital recorders.
Anyway, the mug is drained, the tide of news is still scummy and the man from Wolverhampton by way of Nigeria and Venice has just come down for breakfast. I was up at six because he’d said he wanted an early breakfast. It’s coming up seven by the time he emerges.
I make coffee and toast, and he makes himself a toast and jam sandwich. And in an accent that is part-Nigerian and part-Italian, he tells me about moving to Venice as a child and growing up Italian, only to fall on hard times after the financial crash. Then he moved to Britain with his Italian partner and set up his business here instead.
We’ve been doing Airbnb for a while now. Sometimes it’s a pain, and sometimes it’s interesting. This guest booked at super-short notice (a pain) but has a good story to tell (interesting).
“All these books,” he says, looking at the shelves opposite the breakfast table. “I don’t read so much,” he adds.
He speaks English, Italian and at least one of Nigeria’s many dialects. Yesterday he told me that sometimes he works in Sweden. That’s a long way to go, I say over toast and coffee.
“Not Sweden,” he booms. “Swindon.”
Ah, a different geographical prospect. I consider asking for his views on Brexit but decide against this. No need to spoil his day. He has an industrial floor to lay before he can point his van towards Wolverhampton, if not towards Venice or Nigeria.