- Because it don't mean dick to me, she replies. But not quietly enough. My mother, for it is she, the lovely old harridan, the teller of the tale, takes umbrage.
-If that's how grandmothers are spoken to, it's small wonder we have all this knife-crime. Also, I see that Coates Viyella are in Receivership.
Can this terrifying gap be bridged? Whoever wrote that A Garden of Love Grows in a Grandmother's Heart needs his teeth kicking in, for I see nothing to meld these two troubled generations together. No, it is my poor peer group who find themselves in the firing line, pathetic human shields, strafed by both sides. Of course, there is fault in both camps. My mother (Jaegar, Jean Muir, Russell & Bromley, Vidal Sassoon) squares up to my daughter (Philip Lim, tattered Annello & Davide, teeny tiny shorts, melanic beehive) as they try to reduce each other to cultural stereotypes.
But it is the language of youth that is most worrying, for although she has the eyes of Ruth among the alien corn, she has the larynx of Bill Sykes. And it is made worse by the time she spends with friends from Haberdashers' Aske's and Sylvia Young's, as the influence of the Great Wen works its maddening magic on the aspiring Amy Winehouses of the provinces. Politically, they know nothing, and it don't mean dick to them, anyway, but lately she has wanted to know how she should feel about the Great Atrocity being played out before us. She is impressed by Mr Miliband's call for an immediate ceasefire, for example. Can I, she asks, simplify things for her? Because a ginger-haired student on the train back from Paddington wearing a keffiyeh called them Bad Names.
Q. Should we take to the streets and protest, and cheer Mr Miliband to the echo?
Mrs Pouncer says: Absolutely! And try to work into your chant the latest Foreign Office figures that Britain exported over £18m worth of weapons to Israel in the first three months of 2008 (a sharp increase on the meagre £7m of weapon sales to Israel in the whole of 2007). So, well done.
Q. Should we be rubbing our eyes in amazement at the scale and fury of the Gaza onslaught?
MP: If you like. Palestinian groups fired over 300 rockets between 19 and 27 December, ignoring Egypt's entreaties and deciding not to renew the truce. To that extent, Israel can claim provocation. Also, they have an election coming up, and the children of Israel tend to vote for the ones who do the most strafing.
Q. How will a ceasefire be negotiated?
MP: Fuck knows. Mr Obama is not yet President, and Mr Bush has hung so far back, just as he did in 2006 whilst waiting for Israel to deliver the knockout blow that never came. This time, everyone should pile in with all due haste. To bring Hamas in, a ceasefire would need to include an end to Israel's blockade, relieving the suffering in Gaza and getting rid of one of Hamas's reasons for fighting.
Q. Will Mr Obama know what to do?
MP: Dunno. Can he learn from Clinton's failure is probably the better question. Clinton had Yitzhak Rabin, a visionary leader, willing to return the Golan Heights, and to negotiate directly with Arafat, and still he couldn't reign it in.
Q. What was Mark Austin doing with that chart on the News of Ten last night?
MP: Yes, wasn't it odd? It was a score-sheet to show casualties on both sides. One half expected him to say "If you don't wanna know the score, look away now". Verily, he is the Gary Linneker of reportage.
Q. What will the rest of the world do?
MP: The international community is committed to looking the other way, and is united in its determination to do nothing.
Q. What are your thoughts on Mr Brown? He has called for the supply of arms to be stopped.
MP: Mr Brown is the greatest salesman of toffee in the history of dentistry.
Q. Thank you.
MP: Mazel tov.
A horrible mess, the rift between the old and new generations. What tragedies does it conceal, what human stories? When I think of my poor ancestors, arriving here in dark days, and yet full of hope and optimism for the future! This is not fiction, and those will not believe it who do not understand that Israel has always given over its heart to its children. If the elements of domestic tragedy are not here, where are they? For Israel, scattered in its wanderings and oppressed, never lost the Tables of the Law, never forgot the old things, never became deaf to the sounds of tents in the wind. But now the old men can say to their children "My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways".