After the Tea Party’s election success, the American right has a mandate to fight for a smaller state‘I am not a witch.’ Now that’s not something you hear very often from a politician. But Christine O’Donnell, Tea Party darling and Republican candidate in Delaware for the US Senate, felt the need to say these words in a campaign commercial, after a youthful dalliance with witchcraft was revealed. The denial was somewhat undermined by the all-black outfit and smoky background.
On a freezing January morning two years ago, I joined a US army assault in an al-Qa’eda-controlled village in northern Iraq. We were dropped by helicopter half a mile from the village not long after midnight and shivered till dawn, when the soldiers launched their assault. They met with no resistance and by late afternoon had completed their searches and were mostly asleep.I sat in the garden of the makeshift company HQ — the largest house in the village, commandeered from a reluctant sheikh.
When I returned recently from Paris, everyone asked about the strikes, the riots, the violence and the chaos. All I had seen was a queue at one petrol station and a notice of closure at another: otherwise, it was all oysters and Sancerre. My questioners were disappointed. It was as if the travails of France were the salvation of England. Much more pertinent to our national predicament is something that strikes me each time I return from France: the extreme vulgarity of the English by comparison with the French.
James Cummings could never refuse a drink. Even after his boss — a Watford publican — threatened him with the sack he couldn’t lay off the bottle. He’d worked his way through the profits of a family business, two houses and a marriage by then. He eventually awoke in a tunnel under the Elephant and Castle three weeks after he was sacked from the pub. That was the winter before last.Now, having recovered sufficiently to rent a flat, fight his addiction and get some qualifications, James is doing everything we expect of those on unemployment benefit.
I have seen only one actual fight in a London cycle lane. It was at St George’s Circus, south of Blackfriars Bridge, on an afternoon late last summer. Two young women were attacking each other over a prone Boris bike, with a third attempting to pull them apart. It seems likely that one had ridden the bike into the other, but I did not interrupt them to check.One learns quickly not to intervene in bike rage incidents.
My father believed – wrongly – that I wasn’t his child. If only there had been DNA tests to reassure himIn this magazine two weeks ago, Melanie McDonagh suggested that DNA testing is tough on children whose apparent fathers turn out not to be anything of the kind. In particular, she had sympathy for the child whose TV presenter ‘father’ discovered that for years he had been paying child support for somebody else’s offspring.
It is time we started a campaign to free the Meedhuffushi One, a victim of government persecution. Hussein Didi was arrested and faces prosecution for the crime of having officiated at a hotel ‘wedding’ ceremony on the tiny island of Meedhuffushi in the Maldives. You may have read about his unorthodox benediction to the Swiss couple who paid £830 to have their right to fornicate endorsed fraudulently while they sipped cocktails out of a coconut shell in the middle of the Indian Ocean.
The last time Republicans retook control of Congress, in 1994, the face of the revolution belonged to the party’s leader in the House of Representatives, Newt Gingrich. This year the standard-bearer is a less obvious figure: Rand Paul, the newly elected junior senator from Kentucky. Not only is Rand not part of the leadership, he is the son of Ron Paul, a maverick former presidential candidate who is considered a pariah within his own party.