An embattled, incompetent leader distrusted and disliked by a vast majority of voters. A wobbly economy that might be tipped into recession by Brexit. A re-energised opposition. Huge street protests. Squabbling with European partners. The government is paralysed, the opposition is emboldened — and the nation stands humiliated, as the world looks on in horror wondering how a leader who was so popular two years ago could get things so wrong.
It’s out of control! If I play doubles first thing, have a lunch, then go to perhaps two parties in an evening, I can be embracing more than a hundred people in the course of my day.
It’s so unhygienic — especially in the flu season, when someone gives you a sticky peck before telling you in the next breath how ill they are.
It all makes me envy the royals, who have a trusty and time-honoured system of self-protection from this imposition.
Friends in Herefordshire said they were both fit and well but confessed to ‘watching far too much television’. I thought nothing of it until a Wiltshire couple whom my wife and I have known for ever said almost the same thing but with more foreboding. ‘We’ve got to break the habit of watching so much — even the good stuff.’
That’s the problem. There’s just too much good stuff on telly. It’s starting to become an issue, a tyranny of sorts, and certainly a drain on what Americans like to call ‘downtime’.
‘Get some boomerangs,’ Liz Truss says to her aides. The Chief Secretary to the Treasury isn’t looking for something to throw — she is referring to the short videos on Instagram for which she is becoming famous. She has carved out a reputation in Tory circles for her love of social media, which she uses to poke fun at friends, rivals and herself while promoting her upbeat brand of liberal, free-market conservatism: what she calls ‘Tories with attitude’.
Monday wasn’t the best day for the government to launch Online Harms, its white paper on internet regulation. As Sajid Javid was proudly proclaiming that Britain would have the toughest internet laws in the world, it emerged that a British woman had been arrested on a trip to Dubai and faced up to two years in prison for describing her ex-husband’s new wife as a ‘horse’ on Facebook. So does the Home Secretary want the UK to have tougher internet laws than the United Arab Emirates? If so, he might find himself at odds with the Foreign Secretary, who has been working behind the scenes to secure the poor woman’s release.
A famous actor looks tearfully into the camera. It is Michael Sheen, or possibly Ewan McGregor. His voice cracks as he says: ‘For just £5 a month, you could help an MP recover from the shock of having his Brexit amendment rejected. Just £5 will help pay for counsellors trained to help our brave MPs debate EU withdrawal motions. Please donate now so that MPs like Nick Boles know you care. They give so much of themselves, and ask so little…’
I exaggerate, but only a bit.
You may have noticed the Connaught a little more since 2011, when ‘Silence’, the steamy fountain by Japanese ‘architect philosopher’ Tadao Ando, was installed outside the entrance. But actually the hotel doesn’t want to be noticed. It prides itself on guaranteeing famous guests their privacy. Eric Clapton added his own layer of protection by checking in as ‘Mr W.B. Albion’ (he’s a West Brom fan). Alec Guinness valued its discretion, and was annoyed when Jack Nicholson’s stay during the filming of Batman attracted the paparazzi.