I have now been here for fourteen weeks and I think this running joke was a bad idea.

On the bus to college today, I noticed something truly miraculous. Petrol was going for under a pound a litre! Perhaps there’s been some huge upheaval in the Arab world. Nah, that’s hardly likely. The censor-general reckons it’s just a marketing ploy by the big supermarkets to get us to spend more in their shops.

Now, I don’t usually buy petrol myself – I can’t stand the taste and it’s terribly fattening. However, it’s been a jolly long time since I last saw prices like that, and I am nothing if not a nostalgia addict. Things were better in the past, even when they weren’t. In fact, especially when they weren’t. Roll on the nineteen-nineties.

And that’s reminded me of something that could almost be called amusing – on New Year’s Eve 1999, I saw one of my parents’ friends wearing – and I kid you not – a cardboard waistcoat, painted silver, with the number “2000” plastered all over it. This boggles my mind in three different ways. First of all, I can hardly bring myself to believe that such an absurd garment even existed at all. Secondly, it beggars belief that somebody would actually think such formalwear was smart and would impress one’s fellow party guests. Finally, why oh why oh why would my dear old mum and dad actually deign to fraternise with somebody who thought that way.

I shan’t reveal the offending party’s name, I’m not that vindictive, but he knows who he is and should feel rightly ashamed. Then again, he probably won’t ever read this. Nobody will. Not even you. If you are under the mistaken assumption that you are reading this article, then consult my Week 9 piece for existential guidance.

Now, how many of you figured out last week’s little brainteaser? I thought I should start out with a simple one, to ease you into the game. Therefore, it should come as no surprise to discover that the correct answer was, of course, fourteen and a half chickens per mile.

This week’s one might tax the old grey matter, mind: “Whale blubber in political confusion, except for a salty surprise.” Six across, eight letters.

I’ll give you  a month to work it out, whilst I go and do some Christmas, as is customary at this time of year.

Many happy first-class returns!

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