This week the EU revealed its true nature. Rather than hand power to a Eurosceptic, the Italian President Sergio Mattarella defied the democratic process, and the wishes of most Italians, and put a puppet in place. Once again a major European democracy has seen the results of a legitimate vote dismissed; swept aside because the EU can’t countenance dissent. It’s hard not to conclude that those who voted Leave in our own referendum so as to ‘take back control’ had a point.
One day there won’t be anyone to deliver the mail any more, and then what will the City types do? I heard this prediction more than 20 years ago when I worked behind the bar at one of the pubs here in my rural town. At the time I considered it melodramatic, but now it seems like straight prophecy.
Quite out of sight of central London — and other metropolises — the English countryside is suffering from a terrible immigration problem.
Donald Trump got bad reviews in the press — no surprise — when he announced that Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor and federal prosecutor, would join his legal team in the Trump-Russia special counsel investigation. The 74-year-old Giuliani is not as sharp as he was, some said, and isn’t really a practising lawyer any more. How can you effectively defend the President by slipping out of fatcat dinners at New York steakhouses for quick hits on Fox News?
That was then.
Just before Ireland voted overwhelmingly to end the country’s constitutional ban on abortion, Catholics in the fishing village of Clogherhead could be seen storming out of Sunday mass halfway through the service. Why? Their parish priest had come on too strong. He had not only ordered them how to vote but also supplied grisly details of an abortion procedure.
Presumably some of them voted to repeal the eighth amendment.
Blame it on a marketing survey. In 2001, the England and Wales Cricket Board commissioned the biggest piece of market research in the game’s history. They were told cricket was ‘socially inaccessible’, and that there existed a vast swath of ‘cricket tolerators’ — those who didn’t hate the game yet didn’t attend matches. So the ECB decided to take cricket to them. Twenty20, which could be crammed in after work on a midsummer’s evening, was created in the summer of 2003.
A few years ago, some friends came to stay with us on Exmoor. After they unfurled from their Volvo, they presented us with some unctuous Parma ham and a few bottles of Barolo, all of which I received eagerly. ‘Thank you so much!’ I cried, adding, ‘Such a shame we don’t have any Charentais melons, otherwise we could have this as a starter tonight!’
Even though he’d just ferried his family four hours from Primrose Hill and up our bone-shaking unmade track to reach the valley, Justin looked stricken at the thought of Parma ham sans melon.
‘Saint-Tropez?’ said the French mother of a friend. ‘C’est un peu… “tacky”.’ She was distressed to think of our taking a house there — really, we were nearer Saint Paul de Vence, where they make artists, than San Trop, where they make tanning lotion — and suggested we stay with her in Provence. She promised lavender fields, cathedrals, boules in shady squares. ‘Vraiment civilisé.’
There are two souths of France.