One of the weekend columnists, raging against a politician, demanded: “How does he sleep at night?” This used to be a really sharp put-down with its mental image of a bad person suffering conscience-induced agonies of insomnia. And then, according to folklore, Donald J Trump got his hands on it. “How do you sleep at night?” demanded a stranger in the crowd. “Naked. With a supermodel,” replied Trump. If there's no conscience, there's no insomnia.
“I admit to a couple of drinks but I certainly wasn't drunk,” explains a woman in an agony-aunt column, describing how she and her sister-in-law fell out at a family wedding. I wish I had a fiver for every time I've heard that – or a variation on it – in court. Many years ago I watched a noted thug telling the magistrates he'd had14 pints of beer on the night of the assault, “but I wasn't drunk.” As a general rule, when someone insists they weren't drunk, they were. Especially if it involves weddings, in-laws and text messages.
It is now almost a year since Boris Johnson told the nation: “I must level with you, the British public. Many more families are going to lose their loved ones before their time.” What did Johnson believe was “many”? Forecasts at the time ranged from less than 20,000 to more than 500,000 dead. So what was the figure in Johnson's head? Until we know that, we can't be sure he levelled with us.
Today is the first birthday of our little lockdown grandson, Ruben. I have never known a year pass so quickly, each day measured in some new achievement as he has turned from baby to rug rat to fully-fledged Little Bloke in denim dungarees. He is at a difficult age for birthday presents. As with so many Little Blokes, his toy box is stuffed with educational toys, thoughtfully designed by child psychologists. But his favourite toys are an old loo-roll tube, an empty Pringles container, switches, radiator controls and anything resembling a hammer. The other day, squealing with joy, Ruben found a radiator valve, extension cable and light switch in the same corner. Little Bloke Heaven.
Your first year is a time of firsts: the first laughter, first crawl, first hand-clapping, first standing-up. And only this week, the first recognition of a face in an image. Presented with a photo of his mother, he kissed it. First love.
My piece on fear of needles prompts a reader to describe how he became traumatised by injections after a course of jabs following a dog attack. He even ran away from school to avoid an injection. But in his 20s he was hospitalised. There was no escape and “it was time to man up and face the needle.” Long story short: since then, and now in his 60s, he has donated more than 60 pints of blood and was delighted to get the Covid-19 jab. Diamonds may be forever but phobias are not.