In Yvette Cooper’s home, an entire room is given over to memorabilia of her husband’s life in politics. Pictures of Ed Balls hang on the walls and the room is kitted out with phone lines and computers so it can function as a nerve-centre for the shadow chancellor while he is working from home. Cooper’s office is a snug under the stairs. Anyone visiting might imagine that this was the home of a great political genius, dutifully supported by a mother of three.
Ah, those Italians. Let’s just blame the bloody Eyeties for the catastrophe of the Costa Concordia and have done with it, shall we? That way we don’t have to think too much about the perils of floating citadels in general.There was something peculiarly Italian about this disaster. The night his ship went down Francesco Schettino, the 52-year-old captain, was in the bar with a striking blonde on his arm who was not his wife.
If you are one of that small band of people who happen to see days of the week, months of the year, even single numbers and letters in colour, you are considered either very peculiar or very lucky. It also means you are a synaesthete. I am one of them.Synaesthesia is a rare condition: few people have heard of it. To put it simply, synaesthesia is a psychological and neurological state concerning the visual and auditory areas of the brain.
Everyone is frightened of the euro. So said the sweet old lady who runs the small hotel where I am staying. She and her husband are Germans who came to Stuttgart from Slovenia 50 years ago. They have worked ‘day and night’ to build up their modest fortune, and now they fear their savings will be destroyed.The old lady explained how people are trying to guard against losing everything: ‘Those who have money want to put it in property.
Gove, a man so unsuited to the satanic machinations of high office that he looks like a permanently startled guppy, made a really strange boo this week by suggesting a collection of rich monarchists buy the Queen a £60 million yacht for her diamond Jubilee. Really? A yacht? Men just can’t buy presents, can they? Quite aside from the fact that a floating shagpad with a 12-person crew, a Jacuzzi, an indoor gym, and four on-board jetskis is the last thing anyone should spaff cash on right now, why did Gove think she actually wanted a yacht? That she wouldn’t prefer a really nice soap, or a charming footstool? A toy for the corgis, or a Learn How to Paint Watercolours step-by-step guide? Yachts are only ever hideous, from the 100ft penis extension owned by Aristotle Onassis — complete with bar-stools made of whale foreskin — to the grim supertankers that run aground off the coast of Italy.
Doctors say it’s all downhill from 45. History suggests otherwiseA study in the British Medical Journal suggests that our brains begin to deteriorate from the age of 45. Examining the vocabulary, comprehension and memories of 7,000 45- to 70-year-olds, the researchers found a 3.6 per cent decline in the second half of their forties.This will come as a surprise to students of history. Men and women have achieved positions of power at all stages of life, but it is remarkable how many have lived in obscurity until their forties and gone on to do remarkable things.
The internet can promote freedom and democracy – it’s a shame it also facilitates mob rule and witch-huntsEven those who are wary of the utopianism the net has generated tend to take it for granted that the new communications technologies have saved us from the need to worry about censorship. Sceptics fear that the web provides us with too much information, not too little. Enthusiasts see a future of unlimited free speech when all the old arguments about libel, official secrecy and blasphemy become redundant.