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[/audioplayer]Ask anyone who really knows David Cameron and they will tell you he likes a certain kind of woman. He has a very specific type, the Prime Minister. It is almost spooky the way all his women conform to it.
They are all attractive, accomplished, articulate and well-dressed.
The result of Monday’s vote on women bishops, the Archbishop of York stipulated, must be greeted in silence, as is the convention at the General Synod. This, perhaps, was a misjudgment: it would have been more natural, surely, to allow an instantaneous mass-whooping for joy and an outbreak of uninhibited Anglican hugging, rather than to force everyone to sit tight through two or three tedious extra amendments and then to make them all stand up and start singing and swaying to ‘We Are Marching in the Light of God’, which was what happened.
The main entrance to Al-Shifa Hospital was crowded with what seemed to be journalists. This wasn’t unusual. They wait here most days for ambulances ferrying in the dead and wounded from Israeli air strikes; but this time there seemed to be more of them. Getting nearer, I saw that what I had taken to be microphones in their hands were in fact slippers. These weren’t hacks, they were angry Gazans, come to fling shoes (the ultimate insult in the Middle East) at Jawad Awad, the minister of health of the Palestinian Authority, paying a visit from Ramallah.
It’s the moral equivalence which is so devastating. When Egypt this week proposed its ceasefire in Gaza, a BBC presenter asked whether both sides would now conclude that there was no point carrying on with the war. From the start, restraint has been urged on both sides — as if more than 1,100 rocket attacks on Israel in three weeks had the same weight as trying to stop this onslaught once and for all.
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[/audioplayer]Not long ago I was out drinking with a group of friends and we started playing the If-You-Had-To game. The idea is to present players with two people they would never want to sleep with — and then make them choose which they’d sleep with.
In 2012, David Rudisha, a Masai warrior from Kenya, ran what many say was the greatest race in the history of the Olympics. He led the 800m final from the front and smashed his own world record, becoming the first man ever to run under 1.41. In the words of Seb Coe, ‘Bolt was good, Rudisha was magnificent.’ In interviews after the race he thanked one man above all others for his success: an Irish Catholic missionary named Brother Colm O’Connell — a man with no official athletics training who had nonetheless been David’s coach since he first began to run.
So we are all going to have to pay for fatties to have stomach bands and bypasses, are we? It may be ‘cost-effective’ to treat the obese before they go on to develop diabetes and other medical problems, but I’m not sure how much sympathy they will get when we already hear about cancer patients having operations delayed and drugs withheld because of stretched NHS budgets. According to the OECD, Hungarians are the most obese people in the EU, followed by Brits.
Prague, ‘Golden Prague’, is rich in music, architecture, glassware, pilsner and natural beauty. It is one of those places where laughter — innocent laughter, not laughter in the dark — seems a natural response. It is a playful city, and the people are playful, gentle, ironic. Above all, it is a writer’s city.
The Czechs, be they Bohemians or Moravians, have literature in their blood. Tomas Masaryk, the first president of Czechoslovakia, was a philosopher.