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Monday, February 28, 2005

In The Zone

For those of you who live outside our gorgeous capital of London, you may be unfamiliar as to why there are chain-link fences every few miles, and that why you may be stopped so often to open your wallet. This is because our beauteous metropolis is divided up into Zones - bands of prosperity circling our capital like a contour map. Confused? Let Glitter for Brains explain...

At the behest of London Transport, London was segregated Zones during the Thirties in order to halt the Great Tramp Migrations that occurred every spring. These once-a-year events, where the city's vagrants would move from the warm soup factories in the north to their usual habitat of the Strongbow breweries in the city's south, were the scourge of the middle classes. Up until 1932, prosperous families often beat the passing vagabonds with the traditional hoopy-stick, or 'knadger', and driving the beggars into spital-hissing, urine-smelling fury.

Social reform came in 1933 and with it, the unfortunate order to stop beating the tramps. Despite a revolt in the House of Commons, the order was passed - but, as rich people have the most influence, the Zoning system was introduced. This halted any vagrant migration, as well as anyone not wearing nice enough shoes.

These Zones are still in operation today, with Zone One encompassing most of the centre - and all the famous landmarks, tourist traps, art galleries and pigeons the city possesses. Then you've got the affluent Zone Two, then Zone Three, Zone Four, Stephen King's 'The Dead Zone', Drop Zone, Red Zone Cuba, The Death Zone on Gallifrey, The Twilight Zone, then Croydon.

As soon as you've lived within Zone One for a certain amount of time, you become convinced that anything outside Zone Three onward is a lawless wilderness where people are killed over petrol, and people are burned at the stake for the use of electricity. And this is certainly Comedy Housemate Jay's viewpoint who's lived within the Zone for a good couple of years - and subsequently squints in confusion every time a tree comes on the television. Croydon, the destitute province out in Zone X, for him was merely a myth - a place where there be dragons.

So you can imagine his dismay and bewilderment when we accidentally ended up in there last Sunday. And reaffirming everything we'd suspected.

Jay was horror-struck, whirling around at every passing triple-childed teenage mother, falling to the floor and clawing at his eyes, crying "My god - man-made fibre everywhere..." before I managed to drag him into a House of Fraser to get his bearings. It wasn't ideal, but at least he stopped speaking in tongues when placed next to the Prada. Even then, he kept pointing with his eyes rolling back in his head.

We finally got him out, draped head to foot in Dior Homme, with a small slit for his eyes. Rather like a very gay birka. He even managed to regain some semblance of sanity by the time we headed back towards the station:

"Look at those three boys!" he crowed, pointing at an encroaching trio dressed head to foot in flammable items. Their faces were... unfortunate. Like a cheese and tomato pizza dropped on a kitchen floor.

"They've been hit by the Ugly Truck," he said, a little too loudly. "And it reversed."

He's been working at home all week, bless him. But we think the oxygen tank he's lugging around now is just for show.


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