It’s a summer of change for the House of Windsor — out with the old, in with the young. The Duke of Edinburgh has just announced that he is standing down. The Queen carries on, but she’s 91, and now the younger members of the royal family are expected to step up. For an institution that supposedly represents stability, a period of transition inevitably brings dangers. How will Princes William and Harry and the photogenic Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge cope?
The early signs are not altogether promising.
Buririggu deshita. Suraibi tōbu
Wēbu de gairu to gimburu shite,
Nante mimuji na borogōbu,
Mōmu rassu autoguraibimashita ne.
If this looks familiar, it’s not surprising. This is the first verse of ‘Jabberwocky’ by Lewis Carroll, translated into Japanese by Noriko Watanabe. Ms Watanabe is a translator of children’s books living in Sendai, in the north of Japan, and she is working on a new translation of the two Alice books.
I had 20 good years supporting Manchester United but now I follow Arsenal, and I find the treatment of the magnificent Arsène Wenger by large sections of my fellow fans mystifying and depressing. I supported Manchester United because when Rupert Murdoch bought top-tier English football in the early 1990s and started marketing it aggressively at the middle classes — who, like me, had previously had no interest in the sport — United were the only logical choice.
Tory activists last week were heard to refer to Mrs May as ‘Mummy’. No Corbynista calls their hero ‘Dad’. The human race is guided by myth as much as by logic, and mythology explains people to themselves more vividly than economics. The agony expressed in the liberal intelligent press is understandable. The sensible people who all voted Remain direct much of their fury against the Corbynistas who have taken over the Labour party.
The Global Wind Energy Council recently released its latest report, excitedly boasting that ‘the proliferation of wind energy into the global power market continues at a furious pace, after it was revealed that more than 54 gigawatts of clean renewable wind power was installed across the global market last year’.
You may have got the impression from announcements like that, and from the obligatory pictures of wind turbines in any BBC story or airport advert about energy, that wind power is making a big contribution to world energy today.
We were in a detention centre for migrants in Tripoli and we came to a big locked door. It was impressively bolted and padlocked. Someone murmured that we didn’t have time to look inside. But I felt somehow obliged to do so.
Outside in the sun I had already said hello to about 100 migrants — almost all of them from West Africa: Guinea-Conakry and Nigeria. They were sitting on the concrete in rows, their heads in their hands; the men in one group, and about half a dozen women a little way off.
How to solve the problem of an unlucky 13 people at dinner? Developing a rational mind is the obvious answer, but let’s pretend to be superstitious for a moment, because there’s fun to be had. And indeed money: in 19th-century Paris men known as quatorzièmes sat around in full evening dress, waiting for last-minute gigs as the 14th guest at a meal.
Some people say a pregnant woman counts as two guests, while a press story from several years ago claimed that when David Cameron and friends realised their party comprised 13, the restaurant owner fetched his Paddington Bear and sat it down with them.