I found myself in disgrace a while ago when I contrived to fly my family to a Greek airport called Preveza, only to discover on arrival that they didn’t have a hire car big enough for our purposes. It was about 11 p.m. and I was standing pathetically thinking about buses and looking at a map of the area when I saw that Preveza was really called Preveza Aktio.
‘Hey!’ I said to my wife. ‘It’s fantastic!’
‘What is fantastic?’ she asked in the tones of someone still faintly hoping that her husband would produce a people carrier.
Michael Henderson talks to the sporting hero who is set to lift England’s hearts at the Oval‘Rarely, rarely, comest thou, Spirit of Delight!’ But when it comes, as it has this summer, what joys fly upon its wings. As the fifth and final cricket Test against Australia takes place at the Oval this weekend, the whole kingdom, it seems, is one with Shelley. Should England, who are 2–1 to the good, win or draw, they will regain the Ashes, the little urn that symbolises the longest-running rivalry in international sport, and banish 16 years of humiliation.
The peculiar and very bitter New Labour vendetta against the BBC presenter, John Humphrys, has at last drawn blood. Our government really, really hates the man and it is being aided in its campaign by one or two sycophantic News International journalists and one or two naive or envious souls from within the BBC itself.
For the best part of a decade, New Labour has repeatedly accused the Today presenter of engendering within the listening public a cynical attitude towards politicians.
What did Katrina tell us? Much we already knew. Our politics is as poisoned as in the Nixon era. Even the worst disasters are exploited to score on one’s enemy.
Where September 11 united us, Katrina divides us anew. No sooner had she made landfall than Robert Kennedy Jr was accusing the beleaguered Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour of moral complicity in the disaster — for having opposed the Kyoto Protocol.
It is tempting when looking back on natural catastrophes to see them as symbols of the affected nation’s fatal departure from good sense or moral progress. Hubris is retrospectively invoked to justify the evident nemesis. The horrific events in New Orleans and surrounding territories are being picked apart, like entrails in aboriginal Africa, as though there might be a clue, even a message, that will explain how America has begun to fall apart.