Parliament is out for the summer. David Cameron is on the European leg of his holidays. But Boris Johnson is still beavering away, using the summer months to seek advice from his eclectic group of confidants as to how he can make it to No. 10. Make no mistake: his ambition burns brighter than ever. He wants the top job, and he’s determined to get it.
But Boris’s political calculations have been radically altered by his realisation that the main obstacle to him becoming Prime Minister is not David Cameron but the Home Secretary, Theresa May.
I know some lovely vegetarians but could never imagine joining their ranks. Something about a life fuelled entirely by plants fills me with dread. The veggie’s world is a pale planet, an insipid facsimile of the real thing. Think of the fear all true carnivores have of finding out at a dinner party that veggies are present or, worse, in charge; the wondering if at least there will be cheese, the troubling knowledge that those who deny the flesh often go the whole hog (mustn’t think of hogs… can always have a bacon sarnie when we get home) and so there possibly won’t be wine either.
Egypt used to be good at revolutions. When Gamal Abdel Nasser’s Free Officers overthrew the monarchy in July 1952, hardly a shot was fired in anger, and jubilant crowds took to the streets of Cairo chanting ‘Long live the revolution’.
Even the deposed King Farouq seemed to agree that Nasser had done the right thing. As the doleful monarch prepared to sail off into exile aboard the royal yacht Mahroussa from Alexandria, to the resounding echo of a 21-gun salute, Farouq cryptically remarked to General Muhammad Naguib, the head of the Egyptian armed forces, ‘You’ve done what I always intended to do myself.
Imagine: it’s Sunday morning, and the warden of a medieval village church arrives to get the place ready for communion only to find the altar covered in bat droppings.
As he gets scrubbing, he reflects on how he rang the officials at Natural England to request help getting rid of these bats — ‘Perhaps they could be relocated somewhere?’ he asked innocently — but their response was to read him the riot act about his responsibilities to the bats under EU law.
‘Are you a dog or a cat person?’ It’s one of those questions that comes up eventually — in conversation, on Blind Date or during an Oxbridge interview. The theory is that either you like a dog’s boundless tumble of affection, or you respect the sleek independence of a cat, and explaining your choice reveals your personality.
Well, I’m a tortoise person.
I write this having recently acquired a tortoise.
These days there are sophisticated and scientific solutions to the dismal problem of unwanted childlessness — there are IVF, Viagra and well-established egg and sperm donor services. We think of these as recent advantages and give thanks for the modern age.
But what only very few people are aware of is that long before sperm donation was practically or ethically possible, in the early 20th century, a secret sperm donation service existed for those women most in need.
For 14 years only one man has cut my hair. Actually, that is not strictly true. Last year I went elsewhere and I felt like a husband visiting a prostitute for the first time. It made me realise how attached I’d become to my barber, Kyri, a Greek Cypriot with a shop in Kensal Rise. I’ve been with him longer than any relationship, my marriage and most of my friendships. It was the nearest barber’s to my first flat in London.