I have never met Donald Trump, but I knew his parents. A fact that makes me feel about 100 years old. Which was actually nearer the age Fred and Mary Anne Trump were when, as a teenager, I made my first trip to New York. I remember riding backwards in their limousine on the way to lunch with the extended Trump clan and the lovely Mary Anne apologising that her son Donald would not be joining us. ‘You know about Donald?’ she inquired. I nodded, and recall her adding rather wistfully, ‘He’s always been the outgoing one.’
One of the great pleasures of life, I now realise — and a fine compensation for slowly greying hair — is watching other people navigate the slalom of their careers. The other day I turned on the television to watch a friend who is competing in Strictly Come Dancing. I was briefly detained by another channel on which a former employee was being interviewed about becoming the next leader of Ukip. I returned to Strictly. After all these years I have become strangely interested and am lobbying my friend to be taken backstage. Partly to show support. Partly to see the stars up close. And partly to continue an argument with Ed Balls about an Islamist sect which kicked off during his time as education secretary. I somehow feel that Balls is more likely to finally concede he was wrong if I can catch him in spandex.
My soon-to-be-completed book on the migration crisis has entailed even more travel than usual. This throws up its own juxtapositions. A couple of weeks ago I was in a meeting at the Bundestag with one of Angela Merkel’s supporters. He was trying to persuade me that it was all going fine.