Boris Johnson’s opponents love to accuse him of using the ‘Trump playbook’. Some on the left have become so obsessed with this comparison that they’ve even demanded that the Prime Minister be impeached. But over the past few weeks, Johnson’s behaviour has borne a far closer resemblance to a man he claims to look down on: Jeremy Corbyn.
Both men stand on an anti-politics, anti-establishment platform.
Every Monday, a group of unlikely bedfellows meet in Jeremy Corbyn’s parliamentary office. Jo Swinson, Liberal Democrat leader; Ian Blackford, the SNP’s Westminster leader; Caroline Lucas, the Green party’s sole MP; and Liz Saville Roberts from Plaid Cymru all gather to discuss their common aim — preventing a no-deal Brexit. This rebel alliance is more than just a group therapy session: last week, they succeeded in taking control of parliament and immediately started to give instructions to the Prime Minister.
There’s a line in Desperately Seeking Susan where Madonna (Susan) reads aloud the diary of Roberta, the bored housewife she has swapped places with: ‘Couldn’t sleep. Went into kitchen. Gary came in, turn off light. Gary left. Finished birthday cake.’ Then she exclaims: ‘Pages of it; it’s got to be a cover — nobody’s life could be this boring!’
A related naughty thought often comes to mind when I see my chums worrying on Facebook about The Man stealing photos of their cat wearing rabbit ears or their own preferences in caffeinated beverages.
Boris Johnson is a gung-ho classicist. He has supported the subject throughout his journalistic and political career, is a generous donor to the charity Classics for All, and has a bust of his hero Pericles in his study. Indeed, he says his reading of Pericles’s famous funeral speech (431 bc) when he was 12 or 13 had a powerful effect on him, especially Pericles’s statement that ‘Athens is called a demokratia because it runs its house in the interests not of the few but of the majority’.
In his memoir of office, Decision Points, George W. Bush writes about going to see Tony Blair in the Azores in the last days before the invasion of Iraq in 2003. It was a crisis meeting because they had failed to get a second UN resolution, to give legal cover for the war. This was thought crucial to help Blair and his government survive a no-confidence motion in the House of Commons. After the meeting, the Brits and the Americans shook hands on the tarmac and walked to their planes.
A biography of Freud to my left, a black leather lounger to my right. We were 30 minutes in. ‘Well,’ said the psychiatrist, sitting up in his chair, ‘what you’re describing sounds like ADHD.’ Oh? ‘And what we normally prescribe for that is Adderall.’
There they were. Ten blue, oblong capsules, in an orange cylinder with a white top. 20mg, extended release. To be taken once a day. They’d help me focus, sit still and finish my work.
Britain is in the middle of the biggest upgrade to its energy infrastructure in a generation. Millions of households have already made the move to smart meters — enjoying a better understanding of their energy usage and using that knowledge to change habits, save money and cut their carbon footprint.
While householders enjoy the personal benefits of smart meters, many are unaware that by simply arranging their installation, they have played a role in helping to create a decarbonised energy system fit for our growing demands.
Watching Boris Johnson in Dublin, where he came to ask Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to get him out of a hole, I am struck again by how disorienting Brexit has been. Everything we are used to in Anglo-Irish relations has been reversed. For the first time since Henry II invaded in 1171, Ireland has more power than England. Ireland has always been the weaker party: smaller, poorer, less influential in the wider world.
‘Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain and little, I am soulless and heartless?’ Jane Eyre asks Mr Rochester in Charlotte Brontë’s most famous novel. What is true of Brontë’s heroine is equally true of her Yorkshire home: plain in every sense of the word and yet perennially mysterious.
The muted colour palette of the house reflect the rain-soaked moors surrounding it in a pleasing way. Tucked up a cobbled lane behind Haworth’s church, you would easily pass by without stopping to notice it, were you not aware of its former inhabitants.