Just eight years ago, when Athens hosted the Olympic Games, the capital celebrated with an orgy of stadiums, hotels and other infrastructure purchased by what seemed, at the time, to be the fruits of a long economic boom. Today the Helliniko Olympic complex in Athens stands as a monument to this hubris, a decaying white elephant which costs £65 million a year just to maintain. Nearby is one of a handful of new clinics set up to cope with the effects of Greece’s extreme poverty.
The Today programme ended, and John Humphrys walked out of the studio yawning and stretching. The phone was ringing in the empty programme office, and he picked it up. A spin-doctor’s foul-mouthed rant about how rotten and biased and stupid the programme had been came pouring out of it. Humphrys asked after a couple of minutes, ‘Can I just make a point?’ ‘Yes?’ said the spin-doctor warily. ‘Fuck off,’ said Humphrys, and slammed the phone down.
Nato’s leadership is now united in readiness to surrender AfghanistanThe leaders of the 50 or so countries attending Nato’s spectacular jamboree in Chicago this weekend will arrive knowing that they can at least agree on one issue: ending Nato’s ill-fated mission to Afghanistan at the earliest possible opportunity.Normally Nato summits have a habit of degenerating into unseemly squabbles between the 28 member states over important areas of policy.
The royal family’s PR operation is in danger of becoming too successfulIs anyone else sick of the love-fest between the modern royal family and the press? That might sound churlish, even unpatriotic, especially when everybody is preparing for next month’s Diamond Jubilee jamboree. But to me the House of Windsor looks less and less like a monarchy, more and more like a PR operation. In the last few weeks we have seen a number of royal publicity stunts, orchestrated to endear the Windsors to us, the drooling masses.
It’s unwise to treat victims of tragedy as universal sagesIt really is no surprise to learn that Sara Payne favours restrictions to keep online pornography away from children. There cannot, after all, be a sentient adult who would not prefer our babies to spend more time with Peppa Pig than with Swedish Dolls. But although you and I might think that internet service providers should stick their greed where the sign don’t shine, our thoughts would not make headlines like last week’s: ‘Sara Payne backs call to block online porn’ — headlines which, given a moment’s thought, can only invite the question, well, so what?This is a woman who knows a great deal more than we do about things that we must pray we never know better.
Two or three mornings a week I walk our four-year-old down to his Catholic primary school in Camden Town. As we pass an expensive though rather bad private school, we have to squeeze our way through the mayhem of north Londoners decanting their pampered progeny from their double-parked 4x4s.I can’t say I like the look of the boys that much. If I were teaching them, I would tell them to do up their ties and get their ruddy hair cut.