Update: Since this article was published Ahmet Davutoglu has resigned as Turkey’s Prime Minister. Reports suggest this comes as a result of a rift with President Erdogan caused by the increasingly ‘Presidential’ nature of Turkey’s politics.
Is Turkey part of Europe? For most of our civilisation’s history, to have even asked such a question would have been to invite derision. The Ottomans were kept out of Europe not by some early-onset prejudice, but by the armies of Europe having to beat back their repeated invasions.
Spring is here and the air is alive with the sound of sweaty manmade materials rubbing together, as middle-aged cyclists fill every road, dressed head to toe in Lycra. They whizz along, jumping red lights, weaving in and out of the path of trucks, screaming at pedestrians and taxi drivers; barely evading death three times a morning. Lycra isn’t just a fabric; it’s a state of mind. At work, these often portly, always angry, red-faced individuals might be mild-mannered middle managers who work in marketing.
To say that the Labour party is in crisis because it is ‘too left-wing’ is to miss the point spectacularly. With eyes wide open, and all democratic procedures punctiliously observed, its members have chosen in their tens of thousands to endorse not ‘the left’, but an ugly simulacrum of left-wing politics.
They have gone along with the type of left-winger who flourished in the long boom between the fall of the Berlin Wall and the great recession.
Zac Goldsmith spent almost every day out on the stump during his London mayoral campaign dressed in the formal dark suit he inherited from his father, and had recut on his death in 1997. At least that is what a member of his team told me as I was out observing proceedings one day.
I think that detail was offered as a bit of journalistic ‘colour’ to show Zac’s sense of filial duty, but that was the only sense in which his painfully understated campaigning could be said to have owed anything to Sir James Goldsmith’s bombastic, manic style when he ran the Referendum party.
From the time of the French revolution, the Catholic Church has always encouraged relationships between nations that draw them together rather than divide them. It is for this reason that the Church has always been broadly supportive of the European Union, although with reservations.
There will be many Catholics on both sides of the coming referendum. Many of us have concerns about recent developments in the EU, such as the official removal of the reference to the continent’s Christian history from the European Constitution a few years ago.
When I moved to London, my husband Henry gave me a copy of Kate Fox’s Watching the English: The Hidden Rules of English Behaviour. He was hoping the gift would avoid an awkward conversation about our cultural differences. As an American, I cannot think of anything more English than that.
Fox’s chapter about introductions bothered me. The brash American approach: ‘Hi, I’m Bill from Iowa,’ particularly if accompanied by an outstretched hand and a beaming smile, makes the English wince and cringe.
For the first time in more than 30 years we have no Clumber spaniel. We have had five: Henry, Judith, Laurie, Persephone and Wattie. The last of them, Wattie the gentlest and sweetest of dogs, died a few months ago. We feel bereft. Clumbers are special: beautiful, affectionate, wilful, sometimes difficult, never dull.
They take their name from Clumber Park in Nottinghamshire, once the seat of the Dukes of Newcastle.