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[/audioplayer]It was, in the end, the best possible night for Donald Trump. On Super Tuesday, 11 American states voted for Republican and Democratic presidential candidates. Trump won seven. That was enough to ensure he remains easily the frontrunner, but not enough to persuade his opponents to coalesce around one of his rivals.
Just after last year’s general election, George Osborne delivered a budget that he hailed as proof that his policies were working. ‘The British economy I report on today is fundamentally stronger than it was five years ago,’ he crowed, as he started to detail the record number of jobs created and a growth rate that had accelerated past our neighbours. ‘Our long-term economic plan is working. But the greatest mistake this country could make would be to think all our problems are solved.
It used to be ‘Your M&S’. That was presumptuous enough. Now, when you drive past Earls Court exhibition hall, pathetically covered in plastic sheeting while being demolished to make way for a high--quality, mixed-tenure residential neighbourhood, the hoarding tells you you’re going past ‘My Earls Court’. You can read all about it on myearlscourt.com.
No, it is not my Earls Court. And nor will I like it more if you try to tell me it is mine.
I went to Budapest last year and did the usual touristy things. I climbed up the hill to the fantasy castle walls in Buda. I took a boat ride. I went to the Turkish baths — edging cautiously into scalding hot water and then summoning up the courage to tip a bucket of cold water over myself.
Finally, I reached the grim end of the tourist trail: the so-called House of Terror. On the outside, it looked like every other Hungarian house on the boulevard.
Grumpy Gertie was killed in a drive-by shooting. This resident of the village of Sandon, near Letchworth, was shot at close range from a passing 4x4. There seems to have been no motive. Apart from pleasure, perhaps. Flowers have been placed at Gertie’s favourite spot, a reward of £250,000 has been offered for information about the killers, and the Sandon villagers are distressed and appalled.
Gertie was a goose.
I open a dusty binder and look at my yellowing Spectator articles from Poland, Germany and Russia in the dramatic 1980s. And here’s one from Brussels in 1986, suggesting that Britain was edging towards finding its role in the European Community. Ho ho. Back then, Charles Moore was the editor and I was the foreign editor of this magazine. He shared my passion for the liberation of eastern Europe, while becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the western European Community, but he let me make the case for it.
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Notoriously, during the riots in London five years ago, Waterstones was the only high-street shop that wasn’t looted. But that depressing lack of book-pinching belied a thriving -tendency. Think of a bookshop and you think of a musty, hushed spot where people browse and whisper.
The last time I stayed in Courchevel it was in a tatty roadside chalet a long way down the mountain. One detail sticks: pickled cockles piled high on a platter at the closing banquet, à la Fanny Cradock. That was more than a decade ago.
This time, we were staying at 1,850 metres, which is another world. The resort, always chichi up top, has undergone a kind of wholesale rebranding in recent years and now the high end of Courchevel is ridiculously high-end.