During the Brexit referendum, Stuart Rose, the former boss of Marks & Spencer, and chair of the Remain campaign, claimed that if Britain left the EU, wages ‘will go up’. This was, he added, in a rare moment of candour, ‘not necessarily a good thing’.
But the idea that salaries might rise was exactly the reason that a great many people voted for Brexit. They were well aware that it suits the likes of Lord Rose to keep wages low, and they resented it.
I became a trucker by default. It was the 1980s and I was working three jobs just to pay the mortgage and keep my family going. I was a milkman, a taxi driver and a barman and I was tired and bored. We were living in a town with a ferry link to France and so at the evenings in the pub I got to know the truckers who drove back and forward from the Continent. I’d listen to their stories and think what fun it sounded. I saved up, passed my test, bought an old DAF tractor unit, hired a trailer and began my life on the road.
Life’s great joys are usually its little ones, and one of the greatest is ordering at the bar in a pub. The custom — as opposed to sitting at a table and being served by a waiter — was one of the things I missed most during lockdown. The period when pubs reopened but could only provide table service was miserable.
A bar is more than just the place where drinks are dispensed. It’s a pub’s heart, the region where its name (short, of course, for ‘public house’) gets its meaning.
Is euthanasia painless? The founder of the British pro-euthanasia movement (and sometime eugenicist) Dr Killick Millard declared in 1931 that his aim was ‘to substitute for the slow and painful death a quick and painless one’. His sentiment is echoed today by the pro-euthanasia group My Death, My Decision, which says that it wants the ‘option of a peaceful, painless, and dignified death’. The British Medical Association appears to agree and this week dropped its opposition to the Assisted Dying Bill, currently making its way through parliament.
I doubt that Paul Kagame would have me assassinated, but it became clear to me late on Sunday afternoon that, at the very least, I am in his sights.
As President of Rwanda, Kagame became the toast of the international aid community – and collected billions of dollars in aid. But is this money well spent? My book, Do Not Disturb, takes a closer look at how Kagame operates. He doesn’t appreciate the attention.
My book kicks off with the strangling of Patrick Karegeya, Kagame’s spy chief, in a Johannesburg hotel in late 2013 — almost certainly on the President’s orders.
I lived in Kabul for nearly ten years. I had a house there for many years and I loved being there. I loved the sense of life on the edge — even at the risk of sudden death — and the extraordinary array of interesting people who visited. I later became a partner in a fuel distribution business in Kabul, with a contract to supply the jet fuel used by Nato. We supplied $2 billion worth of jet fuel, amounting to around 100,000 tons a month, giving Nato the ability to bomb the Taliban.
You may think you have experienced buyer’s remorse. But until you’ve splashed out £4,000 on a Jpeg, you have not. That’s where I found myself the other day, after an adrenalin-fuelled afternoon bidding on a digital collectible ‘card’ depicting the Mona Lisa sitting on an easel.
The item in question is a Curio Card, one of the earliest examples of a non-fungible token (NFT), a new technology used to buy and sell digital art.
The Egyptologist Sir J. Gardner Wilkinson interprets drawings in a tomb in Thebes as persons queuing up to have passports issued to them in 1500 BC. This was a millennium before Nehemiah asked King Artaxerxes in the Bible for ‘letters to be given me to the governors of the province beyond the river that they may let me pass through until I come to Judah’. How did we get from the roll of papyrus to the technically complex booklet we use today?
The basic components of a passport are facilitation and control — enabling the holder to travel while dictating what they can do.