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[/audioplayer]The supermarket aisle has become a confusing place. It used to be full of recognisable items like cheese and butter; now you find yourself bamboozled by all manner of odd alternatives such as ‘raw’ hummus, wheat-free bread and murky juices.
Body dysmorphia, the unfortunate medical condition whereby a perfectly pleasant/slender person believes themselves to be ugly/fat, is a strange and sad thing. I’d always presumed it to be (like anorexia and bulimia) a primarily female problem, so much more importance being placed on the appearance of women than men. Respectable medical surveys indicate otherwise.
Nevertheless, women tend to see themselves as less attractive than they are.
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[/audioplayer]Friends of capitalism feared that the events since 2007 — the financial collapses, bailouts, deficits and austerity — would produce a massive swing to the left, but it hasn’t happened. Voters have consistently chosen sensible, middle-of-the-road parties that undertook to steady the ship rather than sail in completely different directions.
A black head teacher told me a story of his early days at a failing inner-city school. The job was a thankless one and everybody was waiting anxiously for the arrival of the new ‘super-head’ (the school had gone through three leaders in two years). In the playground it was leaked that the new head was an old-school type from Jamaica.
During his first encounter with the students, they asked him how many children he had.
He knew most of all that he wanted to go home — that there was something at home he had to get, and he didn’t even know what it was. During the long, hard training, there had not been time to think of himself nor to want anything.
The ceremony at the end was unreal. He stood with sixteen others — all of them rigid as cypress logs, and the silver wings were pinned to his blouse over his heart. There was a speech by the Colonel, and half of his mind heard it… the other half was going home.
When I took my seat in the Lords as a very nervous 21-year-old, Manny Shinwell, the redoubtable Labour peer, welcomed me with the words ‘I knew your grandmother Nancy. She was a rebel like me. Enjoy yourself. You won’t be here long before they chuck you out.’ Forty-two years later I am still here — perhaps past my sell-by date. The House of Lords is bursting at the seams. The numbers must come down.
The Iowa State Fair
‘Donnnaaallldd!!! Donnnaaaaallldd!!!’ Donald Trump was surrounded by fans. He looked happy. He took a bite out of a pork chop on a stick — eating one is a campaign ritual for every politician visiting the Iowa State Fair — and raised his arm in salute. ‘We love you,’ a woman shouted. Someone else yelled: ‘Save our country! Save America!’ No other Republican candidate visiting the fair — no candidate from either party — has generated such crowds and such excitement.
‘Tourism, tourism and tourism,’ said my Antiguan cab driver, when I asked what the country’s main industries were. Still, it’s easy to avoid the other tourists, even though the island’s just over 100 square miles. Take a quad-bike tour — arranged by my hotel, the Sandals Grande Antigua Resort — and you can go from one end of the island to another in a morning, without seeing another tourist.
Instead, you’ll see fields of sweet potatoes, dotted with sprawling tamarisk trees; jagged cliffs and pale-yellow beaches, fringed with luminous, aquamarine water.