Theresa May has always made her holidays sound as sensible and lacking in exoticism as she is. But something strange happens to the Prime Minister when she takes a break. After her last break, she decided she wanted a snap election. Now she's back from the three-week holiday that was supposed to help the Conservative party calm down, and she's declaring that she is here 'for the long term' and that she does want to fight the next election for the Conservatives.
The numbers are awesome. In a matter of hours, Hurricane Harvey dumped nine trillion gallons of rainfall on Houston and southeast Texas: at one stage, 24 inches of rain fell in 24 hours. Like all American cities, Houston is prepared for hurricanes and floods — but Harvey was of a different magnitude. ‘We have not seen an event like this,’ the chief of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, William ‘Brock’ Long declared.
Following Kenya’s recently concluded elections, I took a walk on my Laikipia farm and lit up a cigar, stale because I had saved it for a day when I might hear a bit of good news that never seemed to come. I felt it was the end of a terrifying five-year ordeal when I frequently sensed my life was in extreme danger. A few weeks before at a rally on the plains near our farm boundary, our local MP, Mathew Lempurkel, had allegedly declared: ‘If we win this election we will take this land… We will make sure all wazungus (white people) go to their homes.
As a young sub-editor on the Times in 1926, Graham Greene, future author of The Quiet American and Brighton Rock, had his meals in the office canteen. Elevenpence bought two kippers, a pot of tea and a slice of syrup roll. Plenty to keep a man going through a long subbing shift.
Is that ‘pot’ of tea not civilised, with its suggestion of several cups, of the ceremony of brewing and pouring? With a hot main and a hot pudding eaten away from one’s typewriter?
Today’s office worker eats al desko.
I am not surprised that the mother of a white Christian girl should be upset that her daughter was placed by Tower Hamlets council in London with a foster family reported to adhere to a strict form of Islam. But my experience is very different — one in which cultural sensibilities were taken into account, but to an extreme and absurd degree. Our story is about adoption, not fostering, but one assumes that similar decision-making guidelines govern the placement of vulnerable children.
The Saudi town of Awamiya — like so many countless cities across Iraq, Syria and Yemen that are witnessing an unleashing of the ancient hatred of Sunni for Shia — now exists in name only. Last month, days before an assault on its Shia inhabitants by the Saudi regime, the UN designated it a place of unique cultural and religious significance. But under the guise of fighting Iran-backed terror cells, the Saudis then subjected Awamiya’s entire civilian population to the indiscriminate use of fighter jets, rocket-propelled grenades, snipers, heavy artillery, armoured assault vehicles and cold-blooded executions.
For the sound of his horn brought me from my bed/ And the cry of his hounds which he oft times led/ Peel’s ‘View, Halloo!’ could awaken the dead/ Or the fox from his lair in the morning.
Back in the early 1800s, the legendary huntsman John Peel galloped all over the northern Lake District. His successors are the Blencathra Hunt, a ‘fell pack’ who hunt on foot, but the Blencathra may be the last to hunt on Peel territory.
Oxbridge is an ivory-tower state of mind, perhaps, or at least two ancient rival universities, but how about this: in the future the word could describe a fully connected English economic region, a rival both to London and to the great midlands and northern cities.
This is the aim of the National Infrastructure Commission, headed by Lord Adonis. This advisory body, a legacy of the Osborne chancellorship, wants to create a 130-mile economic corridor linking the two varsity towns and their hinterlands just beyond the Chilterns.