The past decade has not been kind to those we entrust, in the words of Sir Robert Peel, ‘to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen’. Since 2010, police numbers have fallen by more than 20,000, with too many choosing to leave the force owing to physical and emotional assaults in a stressed and underfunded job.
I can sympathise, because I had to step away from the front line and the job I loved three years ago.
I have no doubt that Britain will thrive after leaving the EU, whether or not it leaves with a deal. I say this as a former prime minister of a country, Iceland, which left the EU before it had even joined — and which went on to prosper in a way which would have been impossible had its application for membership been carried through to conclusion. I think Britain can learn from Iceland’s experience and find a way to avoid any major disruption when 31 October comes round.
Quick! Roll up the Persian carpet. Hide the willow-pattern service. Sweep the wok and chopsticks under the Berber rug. Mr and Mx Virtue-Signaller from number 12 are on their way over for tea. How woke is your house? If your impeccably enlightened neighbour ran a finger along the mantelpiece, would you pass the cultural-appropriation test?
First it was yoga classes. Then fancy dress. Don’t go near a costume shop until you’ve consulted one of many online guides advising party-goers ‘how not to dress like an offensive idiot’.
One part of our unwritten constitution has been functioning perfectly during the Brexit upheaval: the monarchy. Unhappy behaviour by some younger royals reminds us how jealously the institution must be protected. It will also be essential to guard the monarchy’s impartial ‘light above politics’ (Roger Scruton’s happy phrase) with more care than ever in the inevitable Brexit arguments of the next few months.
August on Royal Deeside. Soft rain falls without cease on the Caledonian pine forests, it soaks into the ancient peatlands and it darkens the pelts of the red deer chewing heather out on the moor. Behold the beauty and the glory of the Scottish land and skies, from deep inside a luxurious estate where the troubles of the world melt into this velvety panorama. Certainly, one has always found this to be the case.
In a café in Norfolk last week, my seven-year-old son uttered words that mortified me. No, he didn’t comment loudly on someone’s weight, or ask why the lady next to us had a moustache. It was worse than that. Asked by a kindly man at the next table if he was enjoying his bacon sandwich, he declared to the café at large: ‘Yes, but I prefer them with rocket!’
Judging by the gentleman’s slightly blank smile, I’m not sure if he even knew what rocket was, let alone that in the London suburb where I live, it’s now as much a part of breakfast as smashed avocado on toast.
‘Incoming! Incoming! Incoming!’ As morning alarms go, this one leaves a lot to be desired. Normally I wake up to the long, trippy build-up of ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’, which I used to love in the searing heat of Mogadishu. But this is Kabul and the occasional grating siren is part and parcel of life in the Green Zone. It turns out to be a false alarm, but not before I have thrown myself to the floor in my duvet and buggered my back.
When the news broke of Donald Trump’s interest in acquiring Greenland from the Danes for strategic, mining and perhaps golf course development purposes, it was a perfectly timed affirmation of what had otherwise looked an eccentric choice of summer holiday destination — namely to spend three days last week exploring part of the island’s east coast.
When friends asked ‘Why Greenland?’ I explained that Iceland had served as the gateway drug.