Westminster isn’t sure. But it’s suddenly obsessed with themRecently, one Tory cabinet member went for dinner at a top London hotel with some of the most famous members of the financial elite. Good food and better wine: it was the kind of occasion that, in days gone by, would have turned into an orgy of mutual self-congratulation. But the world has changed. The bankers spent the evening attacking the Conservative party for not doing enough to defend them.
The Bible tells us that the poor will always be with us, but there is no good reason, and certainly no scriptural authority, to support the widespread belief that the rich will be too.As capital has become more mobile, slipping across fiscal boundaries at the snap of an enter-key, so too have its owners, who are today only a Gulfstream ride away from somewhere where the climate is more agreeable, the taxman less importuning and the populace less hostile.
The correct response to the film One Day is, apparently, to cry your eyes out. Me, I couldn’t squeeze a single tear; in fact the sentiment I could barely suppress throughout was rising irritation. If ever two characters needed a slap it’s the hero and heroine of One Day. Let me explain. This is a film based on David Nicholls’s best-selling novel — and I don’t think I’m giving too much away here given the number of spoiler reviews — about a boy and a girl who never quite get it together for years and years, almost until it’s too late.
Abdul Haq and the ‘Afghan solution’
Just after September 11 2001, a piece appeared in the London Evening Standard under the headline: ‘Rebel chief begs: Don’t bomb now, Taleban will be gone in a month’. The
accompanying photo showed a bearded man shaking hands with a beaming Margaret Thatcher. The man was Abdul Haq, perhaps the most famed Pashtun commander of the 1980s anti-Soviet jihad. Haq’s
fabled exploits included blowing up the Soviet army’s seven-storey-underground munitions dump with two single rockets; an event that turned the war.
On this Friday 50 years ago, at 1.30 p.m., the house lights at the Odeon Leicester Square dimmed for the first public screening of a British movie called Victim. It carried an ‘X’ certificate, which to the fans of its star, Dirk Bogarde, seemed decidedly odd. His reputation as the idol, not just of the Rank Organisation’s flagship cinema but of all the country’s Odeons, had been based largely on performances as Dr Simon Sparrow and Sydney Carton, and in other undemanding fare.
When the earth began to move, I was on lying on my bed with my cats in my lap. My son was in his room across the hall. The bed began to shake and I thought, inexplicably: is my little brother doing this? And then I thought, ‘Oh no, are we under attack again?’ (having 9/11 on the brain the way I and many other New Yorkers do). The cats lifted their heads at me looking for answers as the building swayed and the door to my bedroom opened and closed.
After Muammar Gaddafi and his ghastly children fled Tripoli, Libyans desecrated his statues and stamped on his posters. As it turned out, the Libyans really did hate Gaddafi enough to rise up, arm themselves and overthrow him. Gaddafi’s own elite units mostly melted away when the rebels advanced into Tripoli, and even the dictator’s tatty palaces (where did all that oil money go, one wonders) were abandoned by his personal guard.
Pauline Pearce did not know she was being filmed when she spoke out against the rioters running amok in her Hackney neighbourhood. Standing in the darkness, on a debris-strewn pavement in front of graffiti that read ‘Fuck Cameroon’, she seemed a lone voice of conscience amid the carnage. ‘Get real black people. Get real!’ she shouted, waving her walking stick. ‘You lot piss me the fuck off! I’m shamed to be a Hackney person.