One of life's great mysteries has been solved.
Whenever I tell people how low the IQ of the whole town of Clacton On Sea is, no-one believes me. They don't think it's possible for a whole town to be so thick, and for all the residents of the town to completely live up to the Essex stereotype.
How a whole town came to have such a collectively low IQ has been something that's puzzled me. I'm afraid to drink the water in case it's contagious.
But, now I know.
Me and the cat went to stay with the parents over Christmas. As usual I ate too much, watched lots of crap TV and had to listen to lots of old fogey music (my Mum bought my Dad an iPod for Christmas and guess who got the task of loading music onto it?).
I came home on the 28th because I had tickets to see Much Ado About Nothing in London that night. Having never seen nor read the play before, on the 27th I wanted to go shopping to get a copy of the text to familiarise myself.
"Mum, where's there a bookshop in town?" I asked. I've never lived in Clacton. My parents moved there after I'd moved down to London, so I don't know the town that well.
"I don't think there are any."
And she was right.
Suddenly all made sense. How can Clacton residents educate themselves in a town where no-one is able to access books?
My mother had bought me some new underwear, and one pair of knickers has "sweet enough to eat" written on the crotch. Like anyone would be, I was disturbed by receiving such a gift from a parent. Her defence was "I never really read it," which at first I didn't believe. But now with the knowledge that Clactonians are denied literature, I found myself believing her.
On the night of the 27th, my parents and I played some Scrabble. The first 4 games I won with ease. The fifth and final game was very close between me and Mother, right up until the end. But, I refused to lose at a word game to someone who lives in a town without books: I had a reputation to uphold.
During the course of the games, words I came out with included "sex", "horny" and "groin" which are perhaps words which should be avoided in front of the 'rents. But, in my defence I got "sex" on a double word score and my "groin" landed on a triple word score. I wish that was somehow a metaphor.
So, I returned to London and went to the theatre as planned. The fact that I spent the duration of the performance pondering how pretty Tamsin Greig is rather than paying attention to the plot is something I hold Clacton entirely responsible for: If Clacton had books, my IQ wouldn't have dropped several points over Christmas.
Happy New Year everyone.