For much of the last century, people had good reason to wonder whether it made sense to have babies. Millions of young men had died or been maimed in the trenches, and then along came the risk of being pulverised by an atom bomb.
Nonetheless, men and women continued to have children and after both world wars there was a baby boom. As C.S. Lewis wrote in 1948: ‘It is perfectly ridiculous, to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances.
About four years ago, my wife and I, who are both in our thirties, briefly thought we were having a baby. For the next few nights my dreams were of nuclear flashes lighting up the sky, of the earth cracking open and of waves lapping at the front door.
Humans are swiftly making the planet uninhabitable. Why would we want to bring another human being into the world? I’ll admit that my climate anxiety is as melodramatic as it is severe.
From this week, all workers in Italy must show a ‘green pass’ certificate in order to access any public place. A green pass shows that you’ve either been vaccinated, tested negative or recovered from Covid-19, and anyone without a pass could be suspended from work and fined.
But why is the Mario Draghi administration restricting basic public freedoms in this way when the Italian vaccination rate is one of the highest in the world? It is nothing short of mind-boggling.
A Conservative government is raising taxes to fund the NHS and telling business to pay its workers more. The world is upside down, and classical liberals are furious. Steve Baker, one of those
MPs, tweeted a picture of a pile of books including Hayek, Popper and Von Mises and said ‘This is what we believe’, reminding us of a time when Conservatives sought to shrink the government, not grow it. Until recently, most of us thought Margaret Thatcher and Conservatism were synonymous.
I’m sorry, Lebanon. We love you but we can’t take it anymore. We’re breaking up with you.
My wife and I have lived in Lebanon, on and off, for almost ten years. Our retreat began in the summer when we couldn’t face going to the beach with our two-year-old daughter. Every year, Lebanese scientists publish a report saying that the seawater around many of the beaches is full of fecal bacteria. Raw sewage is discharged into the sea along Lebanon’s coast; from some beaches, you can actually see the pipe.
Our plans for the Seychelles twice thwarted, we finally decide on Gozo, Malta. Afraid that the Insulate Britain brigade might have us miss our plane, we book a night at the Premier Inn next to Heathrow. We find it clad in scaffolding and the car park rammed. A row of cars stuffed with suitcases outside a hotel must be easy pickings for thieves, but we are too tired (lazy?) to lug the cases with us. Things look up inside: friendly receptionist, spotless room, nice cuppa in a comfy bed.
On a clear day, from the balcony of Tullie House Museum & Art Gallery in Carlisle, you can see the McVitie’s factory. If the wind were in the right direction, I like to think you’d smell digestives on the breeze. Originally, it was the factory of Carr’s, bakers of table water biscuits since 1831. Carr’s held the Royal Warrant from 1841 until 2012, when it lost the crown due to ‘changing tastes’ in the royal household.
Last weekend, for the 54th time, hundreds of competitors met to compete for the title of world conker champion in the village of Southwick in Northamptonshire. King Conker was there to oversee the proceedings. Jasmine Tetley beat the men’s champion Ady Hurrell in the Grand Final to retain the title she won in 2019.
There are several different versions of the game of conkers, but essentially it involves ‘smashing’ your opponent’s nut before they break yours.