One of the first places Professor Stephen Toope visited as Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge University was the Chinese embassy in London. He posed for photographs with ambassador Liu Xiaoming and the two men discussed furthering the ‘golden era’ of China-UK relations. Shortly after that 2017 meeting, Toope told Xinhua, China’s state news agency: ‘There will be more opportunities to engage actively with China, a country with an extraordinarily growing influence which a university like Cambridge must pay attention to.
Here is a challenge. Cambridge University provides an electronic Daily News Digest to anyone who wants to see how the university is being reported in the press. Will the News Digest include this article? On past form, that seems unlikely.
When arguments arose in the past few weeks about Cambridge’s Report + Support website, which offered the opportunity to make anonymous denunciations against individuals deemed to have committed ‘micro-aggressions’ (such as being critical of a student’s work, even if it is bad, or praising the English of a non-native speaker), the Digest went quiet.
I am a key limiting factor. That’s a new one for a clergyman of the Church of England. We’ve traded under parson, cleric, priest, minister, padre and even pie-and-liquor, but never before have I heard us described as ‘key limiting factors’.
That this phrase was used during the announcement of a new official C of E scheme — to create 10,000 new lay-led churches in the next ten years — adds future injury to present insult.
One evening a few summers ago, I convinced a friend to run with me up Portobello Road completely naked. As we reached the finish line, we could hear the sirens in our wake. We were accosted by two policemen. I was convinced they would throw us in the slammer. Instead, the officers gently told us that it would be wise to put our clothes back on. One of them, having seen my body gleaming in the pale moonlight, suggested that I should really consider getting a tan.
TOM HOLLAND: The title of your latest book, a book of interviews, is After the End of History. This alludes to what I guess must still rank as your most famous book and I wonder: is the fame of that book a burden? Do you feel like a famous rock star whose fans want him to play the greatest hits?
FRANCIS FUKUYAMA: You know, it is really only when I meet up for interviews with journalists who want to talk about very general types of topics that the issue comes up.
On 24 June, North Korean state TV aired a short interview with an unnamed Pyongyang resident. The man, who appeared to be in his fifties, said that his fellow countrymen had all been left heartbroken and in tears when they saw the new, ‘emaciated’ look of Kim Jong-un. The country’s hereditary dictator, who hadn’t been seen in public for a month, recently re-emerged looking rather different. Even now it’s a bit of a stretch to call him ‘emaciated’, since his estimated body weight is nearly 19 stone.
Recently I found myself cancelled by the Royal Academy. It was a strange affair, and this is how it happened.
I’m an artist who makes a living out of creating intricate hand-embroidered portraits and flowers. I was working in my garden one afternoon last month when a glance at Instagram took me aback. My friend Laura was defending me against… well, I didn’t quite understand who or what. Laura was at work and couldn’t talk, so it was only later that evening that I began to realise what was going on.
The acting one sees upon the stage doesn’t show how human beings actually comport themselves in crises, but simply how actors think they ought to. It is the same with politicians, but they are not actors, only a sort of reductio ad absurdum of a thespian. Their profession bears the same relation to proper acting (so-called) as that of a card sharp or a divorce lawyer bears to poetry. Take Michael Gove, whom I have known since I was 21, and Matt Hancock, whom (I thank God fasting) I don’t know at all.
I was 12 when I got into skateboarding: the same age as Sky Brown, the youngest member of Team GB’s skateboarding squad at the Tokyo Olympics. And unlike most old fogies, I’m pleased that boarding has finally been recognised as an Olympic sport. When I took it up, I was constantly being told that it was a passing fad and would soon go the way of the hula hoop, the space hopper and the pogo stick. But I confidently told the doubters it was here to stay and it turns out I was right.