Just as a pilgrimage to Mecca is a holy obligation for all Muslims, it should now be a patriotic duty for as many Brits as possible to holiday in Tunisia. I say this not to make light of the tragic attack on the beach at Sousse last week, but to urge everyone to show the terrorists that they cannot win. They want to terrify us and shut down Tunisia’s resurgent tourist trade. They want to turn it into a failed state, a recruiting ground for lobotomised self-detonators.
On Sunday night, a protest in favour of staying in the euro gathered in Syntagma Square, in front of the Greek parliament building. They were quickly confronted by a group of anti-EU protestors. What could have been an ugly stand-off was avoided by an unseasonal downpour. The 28ºC heat plunged to 19ºC and the young protestors — organised by social media — fled home, as did the riot police soon afterwards.
Something wonderful is happening in English cricket. The Ashes are upon us and, at last, the England team seem determined to play the right way. The recent series against New Zealand was a revelation. The Kiwis’ have-a-go approach rubbed off and, for the first time in too long, England played as if cricket was more than a job. It could be fun too. Remember fun?
We have seen it before. In 1981, at Headingley, England were revived by the rustic virtues of what their captain Mike Brearley called ‘blacksmith cricket’.
For the final three years of his 18-year career at Goldman Sachs, Jim O’Neill, the Treasury’s new commercial secretary with responsibility for developing the Northern Powerhouse, served as chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, the company’s least-regarded and most bothersome unit. While two younger executives ran the business, O’Neill was dispatched to faraway conferences to bore audiences of docile suits with his views on whether Nigeria or Malaysia offered a better investment opportunity.
Those who write letters and send them by post are a dying breed. I was fortunate to have served as a newspaper columnist and received a great many. Often eloquent, sometimes humorous, their breadth and depth of experience was wonderful.
With the exception of letters that were racist or completely mad, I tried to answer every one of them. If a reader took the trouble to write to me, it was the least I could do to send him or her a personal reply.
Late last month, on a windswept plain near the Polish town of Zagan, the defence ministers of Poland, Germany, Norway and the Netherlands joined the Nato secretary-general, Jens Stoltenberg, to watch Nato’s response to Russia’s incursions into eastern Europe. The dramatic culmination of a week of military manoeuvres, Exercise Noble Jump was a spectacular show of force by Nato’s new VJTF brigade. More than 2,000 troops from nine countries fought a fierce mock-battle against irregular militia, with live ammunition.
Strange, isn’t it, that despite having such famously terrible weather, we Brits are so fond of a picnic. It’s something to do with making the most of what sunshine we get — but if you ever plan to eat outdoors, it will almost invariably end up raining. Never mind. There’s very little that we’re better at than embracing our terrible weather, and keeping buggering on.
This year’s Ascot was, for me, a case in point.