A young Saudi prince, Majed Abdulaziz Al-Saud, has apparently fled to the Wahhabi kingdom on his private jet after a bleeding woman was found trying to escape from his Los Angeles mansion. She filed sexual assault charges against him, claiming her injuries were sustained when he tried to force her to give him a blow job. Other alleged female victims have since detailed a three-day orgy of violence.
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[/audioplayer]Five months ago, allies of Boris Johnson were ready to launch his bid to become leader of the Conservative party. The election was imminent and even David Cameron was fretting that the Tories were going to lose.
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[/audioplayer]Nicky Morgan has been Education Secretary for 15 months now. Yet her office looks like she has just moved in. She has some family photos on the desk, a small collection of drinks bottles by the window and a rugby ball in her in-tray.
Here’s a strange truth about British life: we love a hedgehog. Britain is conspicuously short of an anti-hedgehog lobby. No one runs down a hedgehog with malice. None of us can see a hedgehog crêpe without a twinge of regret. It takes an unfeasibly tough human to look at a hedgehog — even a photograph — without an unbidden softening of the heart.
So if wishes were hedgehogs, our country would be an erinacean paradise.
What fun it is watching again all those smug Volkswagen ads on YouTube, featuring men in mid-life crisis revving up their Golfs and Passats. German carmakers vie with French farmers for their sacred status in the European Union. That it has taken US authorities to sniff out the company’s cheating on emissions tests doesn’t say much for European environmental law, which is good at telling us we can only have low-powered kettles, but apparently unable to sniff out high emissions from overpowered diesel cars.
When I was pregnant, nearly everyone who’d had children asked me and my husband whether we’d booked our antenatal course with the National Childbirth Trust. Men tended to ask with a gleam of sadistic glee in their eye, and the question was almost always followed by a hurried disclaimer: ‘Ignore most of what they say, but it’s worth it for the friends.’ It seemed like an expensive and boring way to make friends: the courses are usually 17 hours long and they cost several hundred pounds.
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[/audioplayer]Stand by your remotes, girls: the second series of Poldark is under way. Filming has started — yes, he’s out there somewhere, wearing those trousers, not wearing that shirt, swinging that scythe. You’ve only got to wait for someone to edit it all together and then Sunday nights can be special again.
At a large Tory breakfast meeting that David Cameron spoke to recently, the tables were named after all of the Conservative premiers of the past: the good, the bad and Ted Heath. So there were the Lord Salisbury, Harold Macmillan and Margaret Thatcher tables, for example. (I was delighted to be on the Winston Churchill table; the people on the Neville Chamberlain one looked suitably ill-favoured.) As Cameron — who was sat at the David Cameron table, appropriately enough — looked around the huge room that morning, he could be forgiven for wondering where he will wind up in the pantheon of past premiers.
By the end of my ten-day Atlantic crossing to New York, a new wellbeing seemed to radiate from me. Lulled by the motion and murmurings of the rocking sea, I slept like a baby. I was never bored. Queen Mary 2, the Cunard Line’s flagship, has everything from a ballroom, planetarium and library to an art-deco Titanic-style dining hall. Passengers do not want for anything: there’s even a mortuary.
The last time I shipped out to New York from Southampton was in 1961, when I was a baby.