‘A princely marriage is the brilliant edition of a universal fact, and, as such, it rivets mankind,’ wrote the great constitutional theorist Walter Bagehot. ‘A royal family sweetens politics by the seasonable addition of nice and pretty events. It introduces irrelevant facts into the business of government, but they are facts which speak to men’s bosoms and employ their thoughts.’ Bagehot was writing about the marriage of the future King Edward VII to Princess Alexandra of Denmark in 1863, but his sentiments equally apply to the coming royal wedding, for he concluded that one half of the human race at least ‘care 50 times more for a marriage than a ministry’.
No one was more irritated than I was when the royal engagement was announced on 16 November. Not, I hasten to say, because I did not welcome the news, but selfishly, because I realised I would miss a rare lunch at the Historic Houses AGM — and many further lunches over subsequent weeks. Since then, as when the Princess of Wales was killed, I have been a prisoner of the media. The engagement took everyone by surprise — and the calm discretion with which the whole process has been handled since must be a delight, and even possibly a surprise, to Buckingham Palace and Clarence House.
What, to your mind, constitutes a ‘hate crime’? I’ve been wondering about this since reading the comments of Paul Marshall, of the Cumbria CID.What, to your mind, constitutes a ‘hate crime’? I’ve been wondering about this since reading the comments of Paul Marshall, of the Cumbria CID. Paul had been expressing his great satisfaction that a shaven-headed lumpenprole idiot called Andrew Ryan had been sentenced to 70 days in prison for burning a copy of the Koran in public.
Through fashionable London the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton is causing confusion. Privately, the snoots of Islington and Notting Hill are no different from the rest of us. They think Kate looks cracking and RAF pilot William would make a fine son-in-law. Is there not always something irresistible, my dears, about a tall, young prince with a chopper?Yet metropolitan smoothness makes them hesitate.
A massive project to change the lives of America’s poorest childrenIt’s raining in Harlem this morning — big fat American rain tipping out of the big gray sky, sluicing down the crumbling brownstones, over the awning of the Manna soul food and salad bar (‘we serve oxtail, collard green, candy yam, fried fish, chips and tea’) and on to the corner of 125th street and Madison in an oily pool of such enormity that the word puddle is no good as a description — you’d have to call it a pond.
It’s unwise to rely on the Gospels for an accurate description of that first Good Friday‘And yet we call this Friday good.’ So what actually happened on the first Good Friday? The balance of probability is heavily against those who would dismiss the whole affair as a mere addition to the literature of mythology. Beyond all reasonable doubt, we can be certain on two points. A man was crucified and His death had dramatic consequences.
It’s high time the US ended its ‘see no evil’ approach to MexicoMore dead bodies found in Mexico this week. As we all focus on Libya and Afghanistan, the cartels keep stepping up the violence just over the border — so perhaps the time has come for America to take a really objective look at our neighbours to the south. We could start with a quick rereading of Alan Riding’s rather good book on Mexico, Distant Neighbors.
It is hard to think of a time when the over-80s have held such sway over British public life. Shirley Williams has the government at her mercy as she decides what to do about its NHS reform bill. If many are unaware that P.D. James is woman, then even fewer will know (or care) how old she is. This is a list of people who are still filling theatres, selling books and inspiring millions in their ninth (and, in some cases, tenth) decade.
The American South? You don’t know the half of itStand by. I am going to explain the American South, a subject that makes the quantum theory seem like child’s play. The first thing you must understand is that there is no South — there are two. One is the Upper South of horses, tobacco and Episcopalians; and the other is the Deep South of mules, cotton and Baptists. The second thing is that there is no mid-South.
Scotland is staring into a £4.5 billion black hole‘Their form of rule is democratic for the most part, and they are very fond of plundering…’ That description of the Scots by Cassius Dio, the Roman historian, in the early 3rd century testifies to the consistency of the Scottish character over 1,800 years. Today the Scots are so democratic they have saddled themselves with three tiers of government, while their enduring taste for plunder has progressed from the crudity of border reiving to the sophistication of the Barnett Formula.