I told a Ukrainian why we're ditching Britain’s greatest wartime leader since Churchill. She called us a country of dickheads

By Abigail Pennson, our reasonable, plain-speaking middle-class columnist slightly to the right of Hitler

‘IT was a party because someone had a cake, you see,’ I explained to Zlata as she folded washing. ‘So the democratic will of the people must be overturned.’ 

‘Like bunga-bunga party?’ she asked. Zlata’s only been in the country two weeks, but she’s very politically aware. ‘The dancing nudes and the cokey-nose?’

‘No,’ I replied. ‘No, none of that. Just work colleagues. There was a cake but it never left its Tupperware, there were a few warm beers, and then the prime minister got on with steadfastly leading the nation through crisis.’

‘But,’ I continued, ‘apparently that means he must resign, along with the chancellor, and leave this country rudderless in a time of crisis. There’s no choice. The BBC says so.’

Now I haven’t known Zlata long. She just does a bit of cleaning, cooking, gardening and childcare for me cash-in-hand, well below minimum wage. But I have never seen such fire in her eyes as that moment.

‘You tell them,’ she said, in a voice shaking with restrained fury, ‘tell them no. Tell them Boris is war hero. Best friend Zelensky and saviour Ukraine. Tell them over my dead body.’

Sometimes it takes such clarity of thinking, expressed in admittedly broken English, to blow your confusion away. Zlata’s words were the wake-up call I needed.

Of course Boris – the political colossus who steered us through Brexit and a pandemic – must stay. Of course he’s done nothing wrong. Of course this is all a Remainer coup.

Of course the left’s agents of Putin are determined Boris, the Lion of Kyiv, must fall. Of course they’re using our own strengths of common decency and fairness against us.

Of course everyone in Britain did the same as Boris and worse. The teachers, the social workers, the nurses and the actors – the real enemy – had parties ten times the size. But nobody’s calling for Rita Ora to resign from government.

‘You’re right, Zlata,’ I said, emboldened by her simple Slavic common sense. ‘We will fight them. We will ignore the next fine, and the next, and the next and the Sue Gray report.’

‘We will fight them on the parties, on the Peppa Pig speeches and on the pensions triple lock, and we will never surrender!’ I roared. Zlata had gone. She left only her wisdom behind.

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Let's move to a bit of south London with no tube and prams everywhere! This week: Crystal Palace

What’s it about?

One of South London’s most leafy and desirable postcodes. Revel in its lack of Tube stop, the exorbitant house prices and the pavements crawling with former PR managers called Tabitha pushing pramfuls of yowling kids.

Popular with Londoners starting families and desperately needing to get out of Brixton or Clapham. It’s got that village feel, like the film Village of the Damned where identical hypereducated evil kids kill outsiders.

Any good points? 

The main hub is the Crystal Palace triangle: three streets which feature everything from wanky pubs to wanky cafes to wanky pubs that do coffees to wanky cafes that sell beer. Stray too far from it and everything turns menacingly bohemian.

Unsurprisingly, there’s a thriving antiques scene with shops selling period furniture, vintage clothing and classic vinyl, all priced just above what it would fetch on eBay. Sift carefully and you too could walk home with a milk churn, a pommel horse and a grubby 50s armchair for just £1,565.

The triangle has several traffic lights to help yummy mummies whose style icon is Carrie Johnson to cross roads while drinking their Kombucha and pushing 4×4 all-terrain SUV prams. The one-way system, a mystery to all, guarantees a backlog of honking, idling traffic pumping carbon monoxide into the air, which goes especially well with the Saturday farmers’ market.

Wonderful landscape?

There’s no point lying – it’s hilly as f**k. One of the highest points in London, as the locals never tire of telling people. Which not only makes the walk from the overground station staggeringly steep but is a magnet for middle-aged men in Lycra pumping uphill like they’re Lance Armstrong climbing l’Alpe d’Huez, but even bigger cunts.

The jewel in the crown is Crystal Palace park, a huge green space best known for siting something impressive that burned down in 1936. The glass-and-ironwork Palace was built for the Great Exhibition, covered nearly a million square feet and would surely tower spectacularly over the area if it was there.

To mark this incredible architectural achievement, there now stands absolutely nothing, apart from a grassy area used by dog walkers. The most impressive thing you’ll see there today is a Great Dane taking a shit.

The major draw to the park remains its Victorian dinosaurs, concrete models built for the Exhibition by Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins, an enthusiastic amateur who had to guess what dinosaurs looked like because science didn’t know. It shows.

Hang out at…

Crystal Palace FC, the local football team. Which is actually in Selhurst, a 30-40 minute walk from Crystal Palace station. Which means on a Saturday afternoon, the high street of yoga studios and art galleries is full of Burnley fans there in error.

The locals have gentrified the triangle so much that Wetherspoons and Costa Coffee have recently been forced out. So, if you’re thirsty why not stop for a pint at a pub that sells Padron Peppers instead of dry roasted nuts? And local, small batch IPA instead of Carling. Twice the price and you might strike up a friendship with a graphic designer called Rafe who’s there for the wifi.

The park’s disagreeably full of events, like the perpetual funfair on the gravel bit near the bus station where all the rats and crows live. This attracts scum from miles around, all using loos in gastropubs without even buying a bottle of Pinot Grigio Blush.

There’s also the three-day Wireless Festival which brings Gen Z to the area. Artists whose music will upset anyone living within a mile of the park this summer include A$AP Rocky, Playboi Carti and Doja Cat.

Where to buy?

Anywhere you can afford, which is nowhere. A one-bed flat will set you back about four hundred grand. Or buy in a nearby area and say you’re in Crystal Palace. There’s no exact rule boundary, but everyone will know you’re really in Sydenham or Penge.

From the streets: 

Julian Cook, aged 37: “I commute into the city, which is only seven miles but still takes up three hours of my day. Still, the Sunday Times says it’s the best place to live in London so presumably those 15 hours commuting a week are fucking great.”

Francesca Johnson, aged 36: “It’s a wonderful place to have children, which is why we’re pricing ordinary working-class families out of the area. Because only my children need green space.”