It is tempting to view the blow-up between Amazon’s billionaire owner Jeff Bezos and David Pecker, publisher of the tabloid National Enquirer, with the peculiar glee some journalists experience when they cover a natural disaster: it can be exciting, fun even, to sit back and observe the flames.
As political earthquakes go, the Bezos-Pecker face-off is spectacular, since Pecker is a long-time ally of Donald Trump and Trump is the sworn enemy of Bezos and the newspaper he owns, the Washington Post.
To say that the May administration is ‘the worst government anyone can remember’ is to abuse the English language. It isn’t a government but a collection of factions so far apart I am surprised they can stay in the same cabinet.
On the backbenches the European Research Group operates as a separate English nationalist party. Everywhere Tory politicians are scrambling to position themselves to succeed Theresa May, rather than holding on to any notion as quaint as putting their country before their careers.
Over the centuries, the British royal family have been many things: conquerors, vanquishers, tyrants and buffoons. They have been denied their destiny, gone mad with grief, been exalted and even exiled. They have been beheaded, beholden, belligerent and benevolent, but until now they have never really been victims. And certainly not self-identifying victims.
Yet the cult of victimhood has engulfed the royal battlements like a poisoned ivy.
It was World Hijab Day earlier this month. You probably missed it, but you can imagine the idea: ‘global citizens’ of all faiths and backgrounds were asked to cover their heads for a day ‘in solidarity with Muslim women worldwide’. It is done in ‘recognition of millions of Muslim women who choose to wear the hijab and live a life of modesty’.
Wearing a hijab is not such an abstract cause for me: I used to wear one a few years ago when I was at school in Iran.
Two weeks ago Luigi Di Maio, Italy’s vice-premier and Labour Minister and the top politician of the Five Star Movement (M5S), appointed a new commissioner for the UN cultural organisation Unesco. He chose the dog--whistling, bum-slapping sex--comedy actor Lino Banfi, star of How to Seduce Your Teacher, Policewoman on the Porno Squad and other films. The M5S was launched online by the 1980s comedian Beppe Grillo.
If you’ve ever travelled on London’s Piccadilly Line, you may have noticed that on the stretch between Green Park and South Kensington, the north-facing tunnel twice changes to a peculiar dark grey rather than the familiar charcoal black. I always used to look out for these grey bricks when I took the Tube back home to Hammersmith. This is because I was obsessed with disused, or ‘ghost’ stations, and on this stretch were two of the most distinguished: Down Street and Brompton Road, both of which were closed in the 1930s.