In the middle of a breaking news story, MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell sounded like she was about to cry. Something had happened to the CIA director David Petraeus — but what? Andrea ticked off his accomplishments one by one, the phrase ‘personal tragedy’ echoing ominously over the airwaves.
For the love of Mike, was he in a coma? Dead? It took a few more painful moments of this boilerplate obituary and Mitchell’s palpable grief for it to sink in: ‘King David’ had done something bad — an extramarital affair! — for which he apparently took responsibility, and so he had immediately resigned his post.
Angela Merkel is running out of nice things to say about David Cameron and the Tory rebels who are dictating his European policy. Der Spiegel magazine recently compared the British to ‘at best spectators in the gallery like Statler and Waldorf, the two old men on The Muppet Show’. This was apparently after a briefing from Merkel’s office.
If she thinks the Tories are bad, the public are much worse.
‘Europe is speaking German now,’ said Volker Kauder, parliamentary chairman of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrat party, about a year ago. He was urging Britain to back Merkel’s plans for saving Europe’s rickety banks and state budgets. Last week, the Chancellor herself arrived in London to dine with David Cameron and deliver the message in person.
Cameron is in a tricky spot. The summit to determine the EU budget for the next seven years will be held on 22 November.
Francis Lee, the barrel-chested footballer who banged in goals for Bolton Wanderers and Manchester City, was my first idol. Billy Wilder, Johnny Mercer and Philip Larkin rank among the heroes of my maturity, though nobody will ever displace Chekhov and Schubert at the head of the table. But the vicar’s son who went up to public school in 1972, hoping to find a pop group he could call his own, stumbled upon the man who lit up his adolescence 40 years ago this month: Bryan Ferry.
The 18th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party had begun, and President Hu Jintao was droning his way through his last big speech before stepping down for good. Irritatingly, he raised his voice to a low shout every time he reached the end of a significant sentence. That was when the assembled delegates were expected to applaud, and of course they did. They’d all been issued with copies of his speech telling them precisely where to start clapping.
I used to be a foreign correspondent. Sometimes I thought it was a pretty glamorous job. At dinner parties I might occasionally drop hints about the dangerous sorts of places I had been to. But the only people who cared were other foreign correspondents, and then only because they were eager to dwarf my boasts with their own tales of derring-do. To my youthful indignation, nobody else gave a hoot.
Now I am the obituaries editor at the Telegraph.
These days, a winter holiday isn’t just about skiing. The majority of larger resorts offer a range of activities from dog-sledding to five-star spa facilities, while adrenalin-fuelled sports such as snow polo and skeleton bobsleighing are becoming increasingly popular. If you fancy doing something a bit different this year, here are some ideas:
1 If you’re a Cameron-style huskie-hugger, then dog-sledding will be right up your street.
My 22-year-old daughter is feeling a little low. Me, too, actually. I’ve just told her there aren’t enough pennies in the coffers to go skiing this season — just as there weren’t last season. I suggested she should get together a group of friends and do it on the cheap but we all know that doing skiing on the cheap means pretending you’re flying down the mountain while parked in your local Costa with a hot -chocolate.