In the White House on Tuesday, with the world just where he wanted it — eyes on the TV, transfixed by his boldness — President Trump uprooted the Iran nuclear deal. Under this agreement, which was signed in July 2015 by Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, plus Germany, the Iranians mothballed significant parts of their rapidly advancing nuclear industry in return for sanctions relief.
For someone so frequently denounced as a liar, Donald Trump keeps an awful lot of promises. In the 2016 election campaign, he promised that he would take the United States out of the ‘terrible’ Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the ‘Iran deal’. Last October, he insisted that the Iran deal be renegotiated. In January, he warned that he was recertifying the deal in its original form for the last time, and again called for its renegotiation.
British universities have serious problems. The recent strikes protesting against a sudden reduction in pension rights were unusually effective, and a symptom of wider discontent. Yet international comparisons invariably show our universities to be among the best in the world, and incomparably the best in the European Union. This apparent paradox is easily resolved: universities in other countries have problems too, and often worse.
Midnight in Shoreditch, and snaking round the brickwork of old east London is a line of chattering clubbers. Everyone seems to be queuing for something here: a new restaurant, or a new microbrewery. Inside the club, hipster students, bearded professionals and wealthy tourists fill the dance floor.
I easily spot the drug dealers weaving in and out of the throng, full of entrepreneurial determination.
Smiley face. Sad face. Smoochy face. Sick face. Edvard Munch ‘Scream’ face. How are you feeling today? Any of the above?
When I worked as a teacher at a Saturday school for children who were struggling with English and maths, my pupils, all of whom were primary school age, had two emotions: they were ‘good’ (breaktime) or they were ‘sad’ (seven times table, spelling test).
Sometimes, when teaching one-on-one, working our way through cat, cat, cats and mat, mat, mats, with the boys who were furthest behind, I would ask: ‘How do you feel about school?’ They would say: ‘I feel sad.
When friends speak, you should listen — and you would be hard pressed to find a better friend of this country in the London diplomatic corps than Alexander Downer. The 66-year-old, who has just finished a four-year stint as the Australian High Commissioner, is an Anglophile by instinct and upbringing. He spent much of his childhood here because his father was appointed to the job in 1964.
When Downer’s father left in 1972, he worried about this country joining the European Economic Community and what that would mean for relations with Australia and other Commonwealth countries.
To anyone who has dreamed of becoming a journalist, the thrill of walking into a national newspaper office never goes away. My desk is in the glass-clad offices of the Sunday Times, next to the Shard; the outside ‘walls’ are all windows and the views from the ninth floor are spectacular. When I first came here, as an intern, I was too scared to admire anything. Now I’m back, this time on the news review section and in charge of the interns, which entertains me no end.
The Premio Rezzori literary prize — held every May in Florence — is named after the Austrian writer Gregor von Rezzori, who lived for years in the small village of Donnini, east of the city, with his aristocratic wife, Beatrice Monte della Corte. Von Rezzori died some years ago but his formidable wife, now 92, is the doyenne of Florentine literary life and in the first week of May I was summoned by her from distant Bangkok, where I live, in order to be one of five finalists deposited in the Hotel Porta Rossa and groomed on how to behave at an awards ceremony to be held three days later in the Palazzo Vecchio.