Being a Jew on the Corbyn left is soul- crushing. In the name of the cause, you must excuse racism in all but its extreme forms. The presence of a real Jew in its midst provides the left with cover. But stray from the party line, and you are not a comrade having a legitimate disagreement. You are a Jew and only a Jew, a corrupted and illegitimate voice that has no place in left-wing discussions.
The compromises Jewish leftists must swallow can be seen in the faintly pathetic career of Jon Lansman.
Warnings by Remainers about the consequences of a ‘no deal’ Brexit are beginning to resemble a game of oneupmanship worthy of Monty Python’s Yorkshiremen. Not content with claims that the M20 to Dover will be gridlocked with lorries waiting to undergo customs checks and that the North Ireland peace process will break down, Doug Gurr, Amazon’s chief in the UK, apparently told Dominic Raab at a recent meeting that there will be ‘civil unrest’ within a fortnight of Britain leaving the EU without a deal.
‘It could be argued that getting out of the office to beat up some leftists is a good way to work up an appetite for lunch,’ one of France’s more cynical millionaires tells me, admiring Alexandre Benalla, 26, a recently fired security aide to President Emmanuel Macron. Benalla had rushed from his office at the Elysée Palace to brawl with members of La France Insoumise, the tattered remnants of the French left, who were demonstrating outside.
Most reporting on Jeremy Hunt’s visit to China this week went little further than his slip of the tongue in describing his wife as Japanese rather than Chinese. Preoccupied by that trivial matter and any offence it might have given the new foreign secretary’s hosts (which seemed to be none), commentators missed the somewhat more substantial issue of why China is so keen to oblige Britain’s requests for a trade deal.
A few months before he died in 2007, Bill Deedes asked if I would come to see him at his home in Kent and bring Boris Johnson along with me. I was writing a biography of Bill at the time, and I knew he was miserable because he had broken his hip and could no longer come up to London.
Boris jumped at the idea and I remember our lunch as the last time I saw Bill exuberantly happy. Boris knew instinctively what a 93-year-old journalist who was struggling to write his weekly column needed, and filled him in hilariously on the London political and media gossip.
‘There can be no summer in this land without cricket’, wrote Neville Cardus, whose rhapsodic vision of the game lies at the heart of its mythology. Hardly a week goes by without somebody borrowing a phrase or two from Cardus to emphasise what cricket means to England — or used to mean, for the modern landscape is very different.
When England play their 1,000th Test match this week, against India at Edgbaston, it will be the only first-class cricket to be found anywhere in the kingdom.
Twenty years ago, Douai, a monastic boarding school in West Berkshire, shocked parents with an announcement that it was ‘no longer viable’. Pupil numbers had fallen through the floor — below 200 — and the sums didn’t add up. So four centuries of history were brought to an end and the boys were sent packing. Now those in the know worry about two more prestigious institutions — Ampleforth, the so-called Catholic Eton in North Yorkshire, and Downside, its more modest Somerset relation.
Sharing a plate of oysters with a three-year-old: where could this be but France, where children are brought up not to be faddish. The fads are for adults. It’s a relief to be away from Cambridge, where summer is bad for the soul. I find myself getting constantly annoyed: with suicidal cyclists, psychopathic taxi drivers, imbecilic pedestrians and double-decker buses allowed to hurtle through narrow streets belching diesel fumes.
In Britain I never drink cocktails, but on arrival in New York it has become a ritual that my first drink is a Manhattan. Sipping this year’s drink, I realised that my regular two-day forays to the Big Apple have become one long ritual. We stay on Fifth Avenue to allow for a saunter among the brown baggers in Central Park, with delicatessen lunches from Zabar’s. Day one starts in Barnes & Noble to browse the latest US political biographies and pick up the new Alan Furst espionage paperback — after a diversion for Mrs Oakley to update her holiday wardrobe at Tommy Bahama.