The Spectator

Portrait of the week | 7 May 2015

Portrait of the week | 7 May 2015
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The country went to the polls. David Cameron, the Conservative leader, prepared by going around with his sleeves rolled up. Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, said that his pledges had been cut into an eight-foot slab of limestone. Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, took a bus for John O’Groats. Stuart Gulliver, the chief executive of HSBC, said it would take ‘a few months, not years’ to decide whether to move its headquarters out of Britain. Sainsbury’s reported a loss of £72 million for the year, after writing down a fall in the value of some of its shops. Three tons of cocaine, worth perhaps £500 million, were recovered from a ship intercepted 100 miles east of Aberdeen; the nine Turkish crew were arrested. Swindon Borough Council was granted a court order to prevent Kathryn Beale from continuing her business of using raw placenta to make smoothies for new mothers, until she can prove it is safe.

A daughter was born to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, weighing 8lbs 3oz and becoming fourth in line to the throne. She is called Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana. On her birth certificate her father’s occupation was given as ‘Prince of the United Kingdom’. Amazon doubled to £20 the amount customers have to spend before books are delivered free. Ann Barr, a former editor at Harpers & Queen who with Peter York promoted the idea of Sloane Rangers, died, aged 85. Ruth Rendell, the crime novelist, died, aged 85. April was the sunniest in the UK since such Met Office records began, which was only in 1929.

A British couple from Slough and their four children, arrested a fortnight ago in Turkey on their way to Syria, were detained in Moldova. Gerard ‘Jock’ Davison, 47, a longstanding IRA man, was shot dead near the centre of Belfast. Edge Hill University, Ormskirk, offered a course in drag artistry. Ofcom said it was investigating a complaint from the Travellers’ Movement that claimed it had been offensive to show a placard on Top Gear with ‘Pikey’s Peak’ written on it. Drivers criticised a set of double yellow lines less than a yard long painted on Leigh Road in Clifton, Bristol.


More than 7,000 people were found to have been killed in the Nepal earthquake and more than 10,000 injured. The number of confirmed dead was expected to rise. Brazil had reported 745,000 cases of mosquito-borne dengue fever this year. A group of radicalised women in the Nalanda district of the Indian state of Bihar has taken to chasing away with long sticks men who defecate next to the main road in their village. Politicians in North Aceh, Indonesia, passed a law to ban unmarried couples from riding a motorcycle together.

Dozens of migrants drowned after a boat carrying about 137 people deflated south of Sicily. In three days about 7,000 people were rescued from the Mediterranean and ten bodies recovered off the Libyan coast, by Italian and French vessels. John Kerry became the first American Secretary of State to visit Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia. At least ten people, including children and a teacher, were killed when a barrel bomb hit a nursery school in the Saif al-Dawla district of Aleppo, Syria. Amnesty International said that in the first three months of the year, 3,124 civilians in Aleppo had been killed by barrel bombs dropped by government aircraft. The Saudi Press Agency said that Houthi rebels from Yemen had been repelled from an incursion into Saudi Arabia.

Greece was so far off course in its bailout programme, the International Monetary Fund warned, that unless European creditors wrote off some of its debt the IMF would hold back payments. Train drivers in Germany went on strike for a week over pay. The French parliament approved a law intended to strengthen the powers of the intelligence services, to prevent Islamist attacks. Two gunmen were shot dead after opening fire outside a conference in Dallas, Texas, that was holding a contest offering a $10,000 prize for a cartoon of Mohammed. The Islamic State said it was behind the attack. The American government is offered rewards of $20 million for information on four men that it said were leaders of the Islamic State. The Islamic State was reported to have killed some 300 Yazidi captives in the Tal Afar district near Mosul. Mindaugas Knyza, 37, who squirted tomato ketchup and threw chips in the Hungry Knight takeaway in Sneem, County Kerry, for 15 minutes, frightening staff, avoided conviction by paying €500 into the court poor-box.             CSH