When someone asks ‘How are you?’ you have to assume your interlocutor is only being polite.
Anyone who returns a ball-by-ball commentary about their aches and pains, work-life balance and reduced chances of summer fun thanks to the heat storm should immediately be sent to Coventry for the rest of time. That said, I am just back from wintry New Zealand where I have been in a Channel 4 series called Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins. Despite my pledge that I’d never do any more shows with the word ‘celebrity’ in the title, this one brought out the Bond Girl manquée in me and I couldn’t resist. I can’t say any more about it as it’s not out till early next year (the Matt Hancock one is about to hit our screens) but if asked I say: ‘Fine, apart from fractured rib and pulled glute.’ Then of course I have to explain my injuries were sustained during a forward abseil race down the 330ft-high Clyde Dam. I find this shuts people up. Nobody likes a show-off.
It was my first time in New Zealand – it’s a bit like flying for two entire days via Dubai and Sydney only to end up in the Highlands – where bio-fascism is all around (as you might guess, given Ms Ardern’s loopy zero-Covid response). A friend who went through the airport just before me was fined hundreds of dollars for having a tangerine in her hand luggage. If it had been two pieces of citrus fruit, she was told, it could have been thousands. If you have soil on your hiking boots, you have to declare them and surrender them for decontamination.
As I came though Queenstown airport, I had to exit through a bio-security lane where a border guard with a spaniel was checking everyone.