The real secret behind Margate’s revival isn’t so much the restored Dreamland amusement park, but the trains. A decade ago, it gained high-speed, InterCity-like trains to St Pancras, putting it within 90 minutes of London.
Before the trains get to Margate they stop in Whitstable, which I remember as a bit of a hole in the 1970s. I went back recently and couldn’t believe how horrible the beach is — black sludge, sharp stones and shells.
The epiphany came when I was standing in the oxymoron of a speedy boarding queue at Gatwick, waiting to have my ticket checked by Eva Braun, mewling middle-class brats squabbling beneath my feet, all of us en route to somewhere in the EU which is both searingly hot and supported by British taxpayer subsidies (for a while). I had been wondering where on the plane we would be seated. Almost certainly that very row in the middle which is the last to be served by the drinks trolley, and where the stale flatus tends to congregate.
It would be daft for someone to offer you £1.8 billion and you turn it down. That sort of money isn’t to be sniffed at. This is how much Boris Johnson announced he would give to the NHS as an extra funding boost. And I don’t want to seem churlish or ungrateful — after all, those of us who work in the health service are always banging on about how NHS resources are near breaking point. But I have some reservations.
Pretty much every summer, my family and my cousins head for a farm in north Cornwall, strategically situated for visits to our favourite beach: Trevone. A beautiful cove with breakers, cliffs and an unobtrusive shop, its chief appeal is the opportunity it provides for building colossal sandcastles. Each year, our ambitions grow ever more Babylonian. This summer we excelled ourselves.
There’s a cultural problem at the BBC, isn’t there? The Corporation is trying to attract under-35s — the sort who don’t really listen to scheduled radio programmes and who probably listen, if to anything from the BBC at all, to Radio 5 Live.
This is the most obvious way to explain what’s happened to Desert Island Discs. It’s the only possible reason why Lauren Laverne, DJ, pop musician, a face for television rather than radio, replaced Kirsty Young for her sick leave.
There is no faster way to get yourself classed as dim than by admitting that you hold religious belief, especially Christian belief. Anti-Catholicism used to be the anti-Semitism of intellectuals; now Catholics get no special attention. All believing Christians are regarded as stupid, eccentric or malevolent.
Some conservatives will make the case for the social usefulness of Christian values. The conservative asks: if society prospered with these traditions and customs, is it really wise to throw them away without a moment’s hesitation?
That is just what the West is doing, especially the Anglophone West.
‘Volcanic temper… suspicious of everyone… irritability, mood swings… terror stalking the shadows… devastating collapse of Europe’s economy… rampant insecurity, unbridled hypochondria…’ Trump? No, it’s Henry VIII, according to Robert Hutchinson. But the ‘king’ across the water is uncannily like the Tudor tyrant; the discarded wives, the wenching, the rival heirs, the fawning, the flattery, the broken treaties.
Savannah GA is supposed to have lots of ghosts, but I’d forgotten that. It was an April morning and sunlight filtered through the Spanish moss. As I arrived at Wright Square, someone fell into step with me and we crossed the road together. At the other side I glanced to see who it was. No one. Huh.
This is the Ghost Coast and there is an industry around it, including night-time tours in a black trolley bus that end in a visit to Savannah’s most haunted residence, the gothic Sorrel-Weed House.