In the midst of all the outrage about modern-day slavery, usually vulnerable men forced into manual labour, there is actually a far worse form of abuse going on in the UK. It happens in every city, town and even village. It’s endemic to every culture and region of the world, and yet these days we justify it in the name of ‘liberation’. We’ve become accustomed to thinking of prostitution as a legitimate way of earning a living, even ‘empowering’ for women.
A vast cohort of bright young things have secured their university places with A-level success this week. But things are not so rosy at the universities they will set off to join: after 25 years of rapid expansion, the sector is drifting away from both the core principles of education and the world of work. A few figures illustrate the problem: 2.3 million students are in higher education; 47 per cent of young people are in university; 51 per cent of A--level students will begin undergraduate study aged 18.
The National Enquirer presented Trump watchers with a mystery last week. Why did it print an attack on Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort? A headline screamed: ‘Trump advisor sex scandal — Paul Manafort’s sick affair.’ A 68-year-old man’s alleged dalliance with a ‘hottie half his age’ might seem a trivial subject to discuss as the US convulses over the issue of race once again, this time after a white supremacist killed a woman protester in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Setting off to spend a year teaching English in Zhejiang province in south-eastern China, I expected plenty of surprises. But what struck me most was something they tend not to tell you about in the guidebooks: the racism.
It started when I went around the classroom, asking pupils which city they were from. When I got to a slightly darker-skinned boy, his classmates thought it was hilarious to shout ‘Africa!’ It’s a theme.
The subtitle of Al Gore’s new film is ‘Truth to Power’, which is supposed to give the impression of brave old Al fighting for right against the mighty fossil fuel establishment. But it is somewhat ironic, given his response when the power being challenged is Gore himself. The former vice president was in London last week to promote his new film and I, along with the world’s press, was invited to a private screening before being allotted an entire eight minutes talking with the great man.
As his obituaries pointed out, my brother David made a name for himself with his unrideable bicycle; his ‘perpetual motion’ machine — a bicycle wheel still rotating in a frame on our mantelpiece (it attracted 1.1 million hits on a German website); and his theory that the arsenic found in Napoleon’s hair and fingernails was down to his wallpaper.
The papers naturally got all this wrong (‘Napoleon killed by wallpaper’ they intoned, as did Andrew Roberts), and the image of the potty prof emerged.
Chaps, be honest. Have you achieved nether-region nirvana? Twenty years ago I had reached the summit of underwear style and comfort but was haunted by the fear that one day I would come crashing down from these Elysian heights. My brand would go out of business and I would be confronting knicker nemesis. And sure enough, a while ago my fashionista friend Kitty Go duly reported that Regatta of Manila, purveyor of the world’s most fabulous baggy boxers in the jauntiest fabrics, was no more.