If western universities were not brimming with leftist professors, the present situation in Ukraine would surprise no one. History would have taught us that the complete defeat of Nazi Germany was bound to clear the way for Soviet Russia’s domination of the Eurasian continent, although not going for total victory would hardly have been a vote-getter back in 1945. Gen. George Patton, for one, wanted to fight the bear right there and then, but cooler heads prevailed.
Catriona has a commission to paint the 17th-century façade of the chapel of St Joseph’s. She’d made a start when she decided that a foreground figure would lend greater interest and perspective to the composition. Following an email exchange, one of the nuns agreed to pose on the stony path leading up to the chapel for a photograph, from which Catriona would complete the work.
At the appointed time she clanked the bell beside the pointed nunnery door.
The lodger looked at me blankly and pronounced wearily, as though intoning something he was tired of parroting, that I was putting vulnerable people at risk by not having the vaccine. I stifled a yawn. Can anyone really still think this?
A half-hearted argument of sorts ensued while I was washing up and he was heating his microwave dinner in which neither of us could really be bothered. I tried to politely point out that it was a good job an irresponsible person like me was so foolhardy and fearless about Covid or he would not have found a room in the middle of lockdown, especially since he works at a hospital.
Kitsch is something of my stock-in-trade. And it doesn’t get more kitsch than Black Forest gateau. Pots of cream, pints of cherry schnapps, a storm of chocolate shavings and some very baroque decoration: it ticks all my old-school boxes.
Of course, we are very familiar with the Black Forest gateau’s – BFG to its friends – punchy flavours. Chocolate, cherry, cream. What a trio! Now so classic that we barely give it a second thought.
My father loved nothing more than a smutty limerick. Indeed, he delighted in penning lewd lines whenever he was encouraged to do so.
This being a family magazine, I won’t sully your breakfast with his verse on Verdicchio – tame though it is – but can happily send under plain brown-paper wrapper or via email if such things appeal.
It’s just that said lickerish limerick was brought to mind on tasting the first wine of this very genial selection – three Italian, three French – from our old mates at Honest Grapes.
By the time you read this the new draft of the Online Safety Bill should be on the DCMS website. I haven’t seen it yet, but I have a pretty good idea of what’s in it because I’m one of dozens who’ve been urging ministers and officials behind the scenes to strengthen the free speech protections in the bill. For those not up to speed, the aim of the bill (in the words of Nadine Dorries, the Secretary of State at DCMS) is ‘to make the UK the safest place in the world to be online’, i.
Q. These days I am on a tight budget while many of my friends are still able to spend freely. Often when I meet someone for lunch or dinner they eat and drink far more than I do (I am careful to eat only what I can afford) yet they still presume I will be up for splitting the bill down the middle. They are not doing this out of meanness – just not thinking about how broke I am compared to in the past. I live in dread of quibbling.
My dear friend Richard Stow is a most congenial fellow. A serious financial entrepreneur, he is also a clubman and an oenophile. Over a sound meal and good bottles, he enjoys convening a group of old muckers. They are all well into the respectabilities of middle life. Some of them have already featured in the Honours List. Others are heading in that direction. But Richard still manages to evoke the atmosphere of an undergraduate dining club.
In 2019, Boris Johnson hit out at ‘the doomsters and the gloomsters’. I was surprised then to find that the doublet doom and gloom
dated only from 1947, in the play Finian’s Rainbow. Three years after the 2016 referendum, Project Fear was still being applied to Brexit. Since then, to buy time in combating coronavirus, another project was launched to instil fear in the population. So, if they could, they stayed at home, petrified of Covid-19, and it proved hard to tempt them out again.
Let’s take a knife
and our differences
down to the hazel wood.
Two strokes each
converts to four
stakes in the ground.
Let’s run these round
with rope to make
a ring, then step
in. Let’s box. Or let’s
kneel before a sacred
court. Either way
we’ll agree that justice
should be outsourced,
or the fight fenced
off, so our grievances
won’t grow into
feuds, battles, wars.
I spend quite a lot of time attacking what I call ‘motorway service station’ path design. More attentive readers of The Spectator may remember this from 2019:
‘You are tooling down a motorway at 75mph and decide to stop for a break… Once off the slip road you face a barrage of signs: Food Court/Fuel/Lorries/Caravans/Coaches/Travelodge/Costa Drive-Thru, each pointing to a different fork. If your attention briefly wavers and you miss one of these bifurcations, you will find yourself hopelessly trapped in the lorry park with no means of return.
You don’t always have to win to enjoy it. At the end of the £100,000 Paddy Power Imperial Cup at Sandown on Saturday the exhilarated 7lb claimer Archie Bellamy jumped off Lively Citizen with a grin on his face you could have driven a car through. ‘I got some spin off that,’ he declared. ‘You’re turning in and he just takes off. I had such a lot of fun out there.’ So he had, riding a well-judged race on the 28-1 shot to take the lead two out and keeping on well.