A lesson is learnt. Good music, as we hear it, tends to be ours and ours alone. But bad music is everyone's: we all suffer together. Last month I related the harrowing tale of a recent family holiday in St Ives, where my girlfriend and I, while not buying beach balls in a tourist-tat emporium, happened to hear Neil Diamond's singular version of the Hollies' 'He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother'. With customary lack of restraint, the old schlockmeister transforms a simple pop song into a full-blooded Broadway show-stopper.
We got word that our house in London was infested with fleas as we drove north on holiday in glorious weather through the borders into Scotland. Sid, who very kindly and conscientiously looks after our cats while we are away, sent a series of increasingly alarmed text messages, in which he informed us that he was suffering flea attacks of unbridled savagery on his ankles every time he went into the kitchen or sitting-room.
The moment has come for the long queue of diplomatic high-wire artists to bite the bullet: there is no immediate prospect of peace between Israel and the Palestinians. No matter how much Tony Blair huffs and Jack Straw puffs, the painful reality is that the Middle East 'road-map' is destined to join the slew of failed peace plans in the garbage can marked 'Diplomatic Good Intentions'. True, both Israeli and Palestinian Prime Ministers have embraced the 'road-map', which provides a choreographed procession towards an independent Palestinian state.
America is disengaging from Saudi Arabia. To many observers this seems shocking, to others it is unthinkable, but all the evidence points to a dramatic change in relations. A few weeks ago, the last of America's bases, Prince Sultan Air Base, was closed and the 363rd Air Expeditionary Wing deactivated. This coincides with claims that there are direct links between the House of Saud and America's arch enemy, Osama bin Laden.
Will Osama and Saddam ever be found? If they fare as well as the Bosnian Serb mass murderers Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic, perhaps not. In July the desperate duo celebrated eight years on the run from indictments by The Hague Tribunal, and the smart money has them at large a while longer. Mladic seems to have vanished, but the hunt for Karadzic goes on. It goes without saying that no one is quite sure where the bouffant-haired psychiatrist and cod poet is, but best guesses have him roving the remoter parts of Republika Srpska (the Serbian bit of Bosnia) and Montenegro.
The Spectator began by asking Berlusconi whether he has mended fences with Chancellor Schröder, after he likened the German Social Democrat MEP, Martin Schulz, to a Nazi camp commandant?It was I who was offended, my government and my country. I replied with a joke. I wanted to be humorous. The whole of the parliament laughed. My reply was taken and exploited against me. But you know what? It was a reply that was virtually impossible for me to resist because I once broadcast 120 episodes of Hogan's Heroes in which there was this Sergeant Schulz.
It is twilight in Sardinia. The sun has vanished behind the beetling crags. The crickets have momentarily stopped. The machine-gun-toting guards face out into the maquis of myrtle and olive, and the richest man in Europe is gripping me by the upper arm. His voice is excited. 'Look' he says, pointing his flashlight. 'Look at the strength of that tree.' It is indeed a suggestive sight.An olive of seemingly Jurassic antiquity has grown from a crack in the rock, and like some patient wooden python it has split the huge grey boulder in two.