It has for many years been a commonplace of political analysis that journalists have grown in stature as we politicians have shrunk. But the full reality of our reduced condition was rammed home to me, yet again, on the morning after the general election. On the invitation of the BBC I went on telly to comment on the prospects of an exciting new Lib-Con coalition. I was falteringly trying to give my opinion when my interviewer, Jeremy Paxman, broke in.
On 30 January 1972, a 41-year- old man named Barney McGuigan stepped out from behind a block of flats in Londonderry. Some witnesses saw a white handkerchief in his hand, others remember his hands being empty. Across the road, a soldier from the 1st Battalion of the Parachute regiment was seen by another soldier going down on one knee to a firing pos-ition. A bullet entered McGuigan’s head from the back.
On the table outside Phillip Hammond’s office is a red box with the words ‘Secretary of State for Transport’ embossed in gold. Realising it has caught my eye, Hammond opens it up — it’s empty, as befits a diligent minister. I ask if he follows the ‘Yes Minister rule’ — starting at the bottom to see what his department doesn’t want him to read. I expect him to smile but he looks puzzled, then explains methodically that he takes all the papers out and sorts them in order of importance.
Europe’s biggest musical festival is now just a massive authoritarian pigpen, says Brendan O’Neill. No wonder the young are staying awayMost people, when they hear the word Glastonbury, think of mud, drugs, drunkenness, moshing, free love, the lighting up of spliffs, and generally harmless experimentation in a field. Well, they’re right about the mud. Yet far from being a site of hippyish self-exploration, the Glastonbury music festival has become a tightly regimented gathering of middle-class masochists who don’t mind being bossed around by nosey cops and kill-joy greens for three long days.
Here’s a game to play this evening with your wife or your catamite. It is an incredibly boring game, but it will help you understand the world better than a bunch of Nobel prize-winners and more than 100 mathematical geniuses, who we will come to in good time. Take three cards — an ace and a couple of jokers. Shuffle them up. Lay the cards face down in front of your partner and tell her that if she picks the ace, you’ll give her a bourbon or maybe a garibaldi biscuit.
No question about it, the world is becoming increasingly homogenised — not only, indeed not so much, in big things such as democracy and free trade as in small.No question about it, the world is becoming increasingly homogenised — not only, indeed not so much, in big things such as democracy and free trade as in small. No snippet of news illustrates this more clearly than the ban on smoking in public places introduced last month in Syria.