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[/audioplayer]The future Mrs Marsh and I wait outside a small Victorian terraced house for an estate agent. It’s a familiar Saturday scene, especially in W7 — the last London postcode before you reach Middlesex and an area I formerly classified as the dark side of the moon.
For the past three months the cricket press has concentrated on the destruction of the England cricket team at the hands of Australia. It now emerges that correspondents were missing a bigger story.
While Mitchell Johnson was carving up the England batting order, the England, Australia and India cricket authorities were doing the same to international cricket. In a carefully planned ‘bear-hug style’ take-over bid, tabled in Dubai this week, India, England and Australia have seized effective control of world cricket.
In Tórshavn, capital of the Faroe Islands, I met a man who first helped his father kill a whale with a sharp knife when he was eight years old. The spouting blood soaked his hair and covered his face like warpaint. He remembered the warmth on his skin, a contrast to the cold North Atlantic in which they stood.
These days we assume that people who kill whales and dolphins must be bad. Flipper and his cousins are our friends, and notwithstanding that unfortunate business with Moby-Dick, those who pursue whales for their flesh must be terrible human beings.
I lost my misguided faith in black cabs last week, on the corner of Royal College Street in north London. It was the tiniest trip — 2.4 miles from Bloomsbury to my Camden flat at 11.30 in the evening. Hard to mess up, too: empty roads, good weather and the easiest of routes — practically a straight line to my flat. To my horror, the cabbie dodged the obvious, straight route and embarked on an extended loop through the traffic-choked hub of Camden Town tube station and Camden Market.
After all the fuss, the billions spent, the calls for boycotts and so on, the Sochi Winter Olympics will begin next week. Given the incredibly low expectations, the Russian Games may even be judged a success — as long as the weather stays cold and no terrorist attack takes place. But Vladimir Putin should not be too smug, because his broader campaign against homosexuality has backfired spectacularly.
Some day soon, the foreign minister of a major ally may decide to drop an A-bomb on Israel. William Hague and John Kerry have each pointedly left the option open. And Jimmy Carter, of course, has already done it.
This A-bomb isn’t a literal bomb, cooked up beneath the deserts of Iran, but it could be almost as great a threat to the longevity of the Jewish state. This A-bomb is the word apartheid.
Of course one feels free on a holiday: that’s what holidays are for. But I have rarely felt freer than when my younger brother, two wild Irish cousins and I, all aged 16 or under, drove across Éire to the south-west tip (with, I should mention, the permission and indeed encouragement of our respective parents). Setting off from Wexford in an ancient, definitely unroadworthy VW Beetle in the days before these vehicles had any classic cachet, with not even a provisional driving licence between us, it was a miracle that we arrived in Baltimore a day later — albeit decorated in mud and twigs after kipping the night in a ditch outside Cork where the Garda had passed their torches over us and grunted, leaving us to be the gypsies we so evidently were.