I exhausted every possible avenue trying to stop my flight to Rwanda. But tragically, this plane took off

From the diary of Carrie Johnson, Britain’s First Lady 

ONCE again, a plane sat on the tarmac at Heathrow, awaiting clearance. Once again, a passenger was desperate not to fly. But it was me and we had to. 

I tried every legal recourse, from ‘I should stay and look after the kids’ to ‘I’m uncomfortable with their human rights record’ and nothing worked. ‘You’re coming,’ he said. ‘Prince Charles is there, and I never know what to say to the jug-eared cunt.’

So, one week after the Rwanda deportation flight didn’t take off, mine did. ‘You’ll love it,’ said the same dickhead who claims it’ll deter refugees from crossing the channel. Bullshit. Even I couldn’t PR Rwanda.

Problem is it’s not just Charles. All the heads of the Commonwealth look at him the same way: like he’s exactly the kind of cavalier, overeducated pink idiot we used to send to run their countries. And Big Dog has no idea.

‘This feels right,’ he said, swigging a Mongozo banana beer. ‘A few more summits and we’ll get the Empire back together. Pretty sure India’s realised independence wasn’t all it’s cracked up to be.’

‘Maybe,’ I said, because I wasn’t high on colonialism. ‘Most of them seem to be dictators. You can’t send me out with their wives. I can’t keep up with the shopping.’

‘Democratically elected,’ he replied, ‘with 98 per cent of the vote, some of them. No free press, so they don’t get the shit I do off the media. They make their wives treasury minister and nobody gives a bugger.’

‘I thought we weren’t talking about that,’ I said. It still hurts, that he knows how capable I am and hasn’t helped my career in the slightest. If anything he’s held me back. ‘Anyway, talking of elections?’

‘Tiverton and Wakefield?’ he said. ‘Fuck all that. Not my problem. I’m in Rwanda,’ and opened another Mongozo.

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Let's move to a town just near enough to much better places for you to spend your life in transit! This week: Reading

What’s it about?

Famous for its eponymous music festival and still not having the Elizabeth line, Reading is a well-connected south-east regional transport hub that appeals to London commuters and county lines gangs alike.

Rare for not having its character ruined by rampant development because it never had any in the first place, it’s full of people priced out of London who tell themselves being 23 minutes from the capital makes up for life in a soul-dead purgatory.

Any good points?

It’s the kind of place you’ll want to get out of, and the town planners knew that: make the most of the M4, the canals, the Thames, the fast trains to London and Oxford, the coaches to Heathrow and the slow trains to Volvo-packed home counties villages.

If you can bear to stay, decide which of two shopping malls should be awarded Most Underwhelming status. Broad Street is your go-to for pound shops and pissed-in lifts, while its flashier competitor, The Oracle, offers you nothing you wouldn’t find anywhere else.

And of course there’s the music festival, when crowds too rough for Glastonbury roll in, erecting tents, dropping litter and urinating freely. You’ll feel so smug dodging pavement excrement on your short post-festival walk back home!

Reading’s been trying to gain city status for years but the Queen keeps telling it to fuck off, continuing a tradition of royal snubs dating back to Henry VIII demolishing Reading Abbey.

Wonderful landscape?

There’s almost no green space in the town centre but there’s always IKEA in Calcot if you fancy walking somewhere that isn’t a road. Otherwise take an endless tour around the Inner Distribution Road to see the real Reading.

It’s also within spitting distance of Henley-on-Thames, if you can cope with extreme chinlessness in boats, and unsettlingly close to the largest nuclear arms refurbishment factory in the country. And to London.

Hang out at…

Reading is rightly proud of its cultural history – Oscar Wilde’s spirit was broken while being incarcerated in the now disused jail and there’s a genuine Banksy on the outer wall.

The town’s managed to hang onto a John Lewis for all your Saturday shopping which used to be called Heelas, a slice of department store history still visible in the brickwork which locals still believe is worth mentioning.

Smelly Alley in the town centre is another favourite of residents, so-called because it always used to stink of fish. Must be a Reading thing?

If you want to impress visiting friends, take them to see a touring show starring Mr Tumble at The Hexagon and put them up at the local Hilton, which for some reason was built overlooking the recycling centre. Again: London is 23 minutes away.

And check out the station car park, the most expensive in the country – and rightly so, since the only reason to live here is to leave.

Where to buy?

Get yourself a flat in one of the expensive new high rises in the centre named after biscuit factories and enjoy far-reaching views over the completely uninteresting skyline. If you prefer the calmer pace of a fancy suburb with gridlock traffic and an M&S Foodhall, go for Caversham.

From the streets:

Helen Archer, aged 34: “Reading has been an absolute breath of fresh air since I left London. I definitely didn’t move here because I couldn’t afford to buy in the capital or in nicer commuter towns that actually have things going on. Did I mention it’s under 25 minutes to London when there aren’t delays or strikes?”