Who would trust MPs? Until recently most of us thought they were just in it for the expenses. Now it turns out they’re in it to abuse kids too.
We know because we’ve read it in the papers. Not that they’re any better, tapping Milly Dowler’s phone. Still, at least you can trust the BBC. Apart from their old stars, that is, or the higher-ups who covered for them or fingered the wrong paedos. Really, the police should have stepped in years ago.
[audioplayer src="http://traffic.libsyn.com/spectator/TheViewFrom22_10_July_2014_v4.mp3" title="Matthew Parris and Dr Liz Davies discuss the child abuse enquiry" startat=48]
[/audioplayer]I suppose we must accustom ourselves to the fact that some 30 years ago Britain was in the grip of a terrible paedo--geddon — even if, at the time, we did not quite know it. More shockingly still, it was not simply light entertainers who were fiddling about up and down the country, with their cunningly coded messages to children about having an ‘extra leg’ and sinister injunctions to restrain kangaroos.
The surface of the sea is a hostile and unforgiving place. Although it covers 71 per cent of the planet, nothing much bigger than a speck lives there. Obviously, lots of slimy and scaly things swim around beneath the surface — but on the very top, pretty much zilch. Mother Nature has found niches for life in the desert, the Arctic and deep underground but, after 4.5 billion years of trying, she is passing on the surface of the sea, thanks all the same.
So it’s come to this: the only thing that can save President Obama from his own complacent and lofty self-regard, not to mention his serial failures, are his enemies, and that is what it appears they are about to do. Even as his poll numbers sink to new lows that not even George W. Bush or Richard Nixon sunk to, even as the economy continues to falter, even as the so-called US-Mexico border devolves into chaos, even as al-Qa’eda’s successor establishes its own state in the ruins of Syria and Iraq, and even as the Democrats appear on the verge of losing the Senate as well as the House of Representatives, Obama’s foes seem eager to resuscitate his presidency by launching a demented movement to impeach him.
Here we go again: another summer of airport fun. This year it’s been announced that due to a ‘heightened’ security threat, any Brit attempting a holiday abroad will be subject to an even grimmer ordeal than usual: body searching, shoe removing, laptop searching and endless grinding queueing. Expect it to take twice as long to get through security, an official from the Department of Transport said.
Superficially there are some excellent reasons for all the extra precautions and checks.
In England, success in life is bound up with where you went to school. In Wales, where I come from, the standard of education can be so miserable that you’d do better to get expelled.
I did. I’d just spent three days in ‘isolation’ in my south Wales comprehensive — banished to a cubicle with a CCTV camera — for misbehaviour. As I left the grounds, I lit a cigarette. A teacher accosted me. I got lippy and she smacked me across the face.
Trying to count posts on the web is like trying to number grains of sand on a beach. In June 2012, a data management company called Domo attempted the fool’s errand nevertheless. It calculated that, every minute, the then 2.1 billion users uploaded 48 hours of YouTube video, shared 684,478 pieces of content on Facebook, published 27,778 new posts on Tumblr and sent about 100,000 tweets.
Its figures were not exhaustive and they were out of date in an instant, but for a moment they captured the explosion of self-expression the net has brought.
Perhaps you’re aware that it’s Ramadan right now, the month in which all good Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, smoking and sex during daylight. What you might not know is that Ramadan also marks the start of an annual turf war in London; a battle between the tribal Sloanes and the young Gulf Arabs to dominate Chelsea.
The skirmish actually begins before Ramadan. The Gulf States heat up to an intolerable degree and their oil-rich young migrate over here in droves to escape both religious censure and the sun.
‘Hi Ian!’ the email began. ‘We are a group of mostly females who meet regularly in London to review really good reads. We are currently reading The Dead Yard, and were wondering if you would like to join us as our honorary guest while we fire you (gently) with questions about your book.’ The email concluded: ‘You will be well fed and thoroughly entertained! Kind regards, Phoebe.’
Very nice, but I sensed a danger.
Here’s a question for a Guinness-sponsored pub quiz: who or what is a ‘jarvie’? The answer is the gypsy driver of a ‘jaunting car’ — or pony and trap — you can hire to drive you up the Gap of Dunloe between the Purple Mountain and Macgillicuddy’s Reeks just west of Killarney in south-west Ireland. If that sounds a bit touristy, it certainly is; but the Gap, with its ruined cottages, Wishing Bridge, placid lakes and mountain goats glowering from dark parapets, is also an authentic glimpse of the wild place that was pre-modern Ireland before the struggle, boom and bust of the past hundred years.