‘The army, navy and air force are so 20th century. Scrap them and have a massive British Marine Corps.’
Just a few hours after the publication of the Strategic Defence and Security Review, two crack teams of speakers clashed over the future of the armed forces at the Spectator debate.
Brigadier Allan Mallinson, the novelist and military historian, proposed the motion with a heavy heart. ‘I love the armed forces,’ he confessed.
To listen to the reporting of the Chancellor’s phased and rather limited spending cuts, you would think that the gates of fiscal hell opened at 12.30 p.m. on Wednesday. They are the ‘most savage cuts in our lifetime’, said an ITV reporter. The ‘fastest, deepest cuts in public spending ever mounted by a government in modern times’, declared a hyperventilating Will Hutton, a newspaper columnist and government adviser.
Lana Lawless, a stocky blonde in her fifties, stepped up to the tee at the 2008 World Long Drive Championship and smashed the ball into a 40 mile per hour headwind. It landed 254 yards away, the length of two-and-a-half football pitches. With that swing, Lawless became women’s world champion.At the turn of the millennium, Lana didn’t even exist. Or rather she existed only in the mind of a 17-stone police officer assigned to a gang unit in one of California’s roughest cities.
‘I think he is probably the devil,’ said the work experience boy when I was going to meet Derren Brown, the magician, mindreader, ‘psychological illusionist’, what-have-you. ‘Because he does exactly what I’d do if I was the devil, which is pretend he can’t really do magic and that it’s all just a trick.’ Brown turns out to be an extremely nice man, so his evil telly presence must at times be a bit of an albatross for him.
It’s a wise child, they say, that knows its own father. Nowadays, however, wisdom is hardly required; DNA tests can do the job with scientific certainty. For the entire course of human history, men have nursed profound, troubling doubts about the fundamental question of whether or not they were fathers to their own children; women, by contrast, usually enjoyed a reasonable level of certainty about the matter.
The question I’m most often asked is this. How did I end up living and working in south London instead of doing what most reasonably successful movie actors tend to do — sitting around a kidney-shaped swimming pool in Beverly Hills, sipping cocktails and collecting cheques? The question I most often ask myself is a little different. How did a kid from South Orange, New Jersey, end up being artistic director at the Old Vic in London? The answers to the two questions are interrelated.
Ninja Turtles were the first witnesses at last week’s Spectator debate.Ninja Turtles were the first witnesses at last week’s Spectator debate. Proposing the motion ‘Taxpayers’ money should not fund faith schools’, the Sunday Times columnist Minette Marrin said that the child of a friend had been denounced as ‘satanic’ at his Christian school for wearing Ninja-branded pyjamas. Religious schools, she went on, led to ghettoisation and contempt for the host culture.
The Conservatives have proved unafraid of making enemies with their cuts. It’s less clear that they know who their friends areWith all the spending review figures published, one question still hangs in the air: whose side is the coalition on? Families with teenagers? No, they’ll be hit by higher university fees. Families where the single earner brings home more than £45,000? No, they’ll lose child benefit.
America’s politicians are hopeless at understanding other countries – but they’re not alone in that
Ever since the United States rose to great power status, it has displayed bouts of appalling ignorance about the politics and cultures of the rest of the world. Pick a region, any region, and one can find quotations and policies that demonstrate a breathtaking ability to think that other countries were just like the United States.