As someone who spent three decades working closely with intelligence services in the Arab world and the West, the Saudi dissident and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi knew he was taking a huge risk in entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last week to try to obtain a document certifying he had divorced his ex-wife.
A one-time regime insider turned critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — the de facto head of the Saudi kingdom which tolerates no criticism whatsoever — Khashoggi had been living in Washington for the previous year in self-imposed exile amid a crackdown on independent voices in his homeland.
‘The trade deal USMCA has received fantastic reviews. It will go down as one of the best ever made, and it will also benefit Mexico and Canada!’
These are the words of Donald Trump, not tweeted, not spoken, but written down on the headed notepaper of the White House and finished off with an exclamation mark (or exclamation point, as he would call it, being of the American persuasion). The punctuation is rather mysterious and I think it has one of four possible meanings.
So farewell, then, to the Common Entrance Exam, bane of a million schoolchildren’s lives since it was introduced in 1904. Three of the biggest public schools — St Paul’s, Wellington College and Westminster — are giving up the exam. From 2021, they will do the pre-test: verbal and non-verbal reasoning, maths and English, taken at the age of ten and 11. Common Entrance was a more gruelling thing, involving up to 14 exams over three days.
Each year, about ten people in Britain die from allergic reactions to food. The case of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who died after eating a sandwich from Pret a Manger, was a nasty reminder of how allergies can claim young lives at any moment. But it also raises a difficult question: to what extent are businesses that serve food culpable? Why do so many people, after this case, want to blame Pret and only Pret?
It’s territory with which I am familiar, as a mother of two children with severe allergies.
In February, I spoke at the first ‘Irexit’ public meeting in Dublin, a discussion about options for Ireland in the event of various eventualities arising from Brexit or some more fundamental disintegration of the EU. Nigel Farage was among the speakers, so what might otherwise have been ignored became the focus of finger-wagging by the media ayatollahs.
Punctuating the speeches were videos about Ireland’s economy, resources, history--in-the-EU and so forth.
In order to avoid the Labour conference and yet more predictable media attacks on Jeremy Corbyn, I escaped late last month to Syria, where children were returning to school after the summer holidays. Large tracts of the country have recently been liberated from the control of jihadi groups, meaning that in some places children are going back to school for the first time in five years. At Sinjar elementary school in Idlib province, I found the local headmaster painting the school sign.
When I mention to people that I have written a book about home bars, the most common response is, ‘my parents/grandparents/swinging uncle used to have one of those globe cocktail cabinets’. The other thing they mention is Only Fools and Horses. For years, having a bar in your home was seen as the height of bad taste.
It’s a far cry from the home bar’s 1950s heyday. After the second world war, people were spending more time at home, but still wanted to lead the cocktail lifestyle.