So we went to Wembley Arena to witness for the first time what is called ‘cage fighting’.So we went to Wembley Arena to witness for the first time what is called ‘cage fighting’. The reason for this being, of course, that the combatants go to war in a rather large cage. The cage is bound in with a net of the kind of wire you might use for a chicken coop. There are no seats for the weary gladiators to rest on between their violent bouts, and so they stand or lean against the wire.
We had arranged to see Mark Birley at noon on the day he died. But my wife Lucy and I were just too late. He had suffered a stroke that morning. We missed him by a couple of hours and now, forever. I heard confirmation of the terrible news as I boarded a plane for Hong Kong. Not a good time to be pensive, as stewardess after stewardess interrupted my memories of the man with silly patters and wash-bags and pyjamas.
I hope you enjoyed the Notting Hill Carnival and made it back home in one piece, maybe with a becoming scar of some sort — gunshot wound to the gut, stab wound in the throat, that sort of thing. Or perhaps just short of a few quid from your wallet, and maybe your wallet itself. Something, anyway, to display your commitment to this celebration of diversity; to show you are down with the kids on the street.
We’re all accustomed to stories about credulous Americans; as an American living in Britain I am constantly asked to defend the 43 per cent of my compatriots who believe in creationism.We’re all accustomed to stories about credulous Americans; as an American living in Britain I am constantly asked to defend the 43 per cent of my compatriots who believe in creationism. Naturally, I can’t begin to; they’re the same people who voted for Bush, after all, which I find a far more mind-boggling proposition.
The biggest risk to David Cameron’s leadership to date has been his appointment of Sayeeda Warsi as the shadow minister for community cohesion. Warsi’s rise makes Cameron’s ascent from freshman MP to leader in four years look almost sedate. In just two years she has gone from failed parliamentary candidate to being responsible for, perhaps, the most sensitive portfolio in opposition politics.
Some things don’t change in Britain: the teddy bears and CCTV pictures, for example. First come the teddy bears. A princess dies in a sordid drunken accident, a child is abducted in Portugal, two girls are brutally murdered in Soham, a child is shot accidentally-on-purpose and you can’t open a newspaper without seeing a photograph with a teddy bear in the foreground among the gladioli. The legitimate grief of the people most directly involved is swamped by the maudlin tears of strangers who muscle in on it; and the stuffed toy becomes for us what black-plumed horses were for the Victorians.