When Lt Gen H.R. McMaster was appointed by Donald Trump to the post of national security adviser, newspaper reports hailed him as a military strategist. It’s not fully clear what the phrase means: not, presumably, that he originated a big idea akin to Alfred Thayer Mahan’s theory of seapower or Billy Mitchell’s conception of strategic bombing. More likely it is supposed to mean ‘a soldier who thinks’.
If you believe the hype, Emmanuel Macron is l’anti-Trump. He is what the inter-national centre-left, reeling from the shocks of Brexit and the US election and fearful of a victory for Marine Le Pen in France, is crying out for: a politician who can win again. He is only 39 years old, handsome and radical sounding. He’s not a career politico; he used to work as a banker for the Rothschilds (every-body loves them).
Forget left and right — the new divide in politics is between nationalists and globalists. Donald Trump’s team believe that he won because he was the America First candidate, defying the old rules of politics. His nationalist rhetoric on everything from trade to global security enabled him to flip traditionally Democratic, blue-collar states and so to defeat that personification of the post-war global order, Hillary Clinton.
How would you feel about a Queen Camilla, as in the wife of King Charles? Personally I’d be dead against, for reasons I’ll bore you with later, but what matters is how the nation feels. Because the Prince of Wales very much wants Camilla to be queen when he becomes king.
As has been reported elsewhere, there’s now a veritable ops department at Clarence House — jovially called ‘QC’ by its members — who are responsible for ensuring that the middle class is prepared for just this outcome.
To my mind, a bookshop is like a library — the only difference is that you buy the books, you don’t borrow them. But both have a duty to provide books (space and budgets allowing) reflecting a wide range — as wide as possible — of interests, reading tastes, subjects and points of view. Walk into one of either and there are the thoughts and feelings, beliefs and dreams and creations and discoveries of many men and women, and that is part of their never-ending excitement.
Life in Britain has become much cruder, meaner and more spiteful practically everywhere. It can be seen in people’s behaviour on the street; in those abominable neighbours from hell; in companies piling up the profits with no care whatsoever for the degree to which they are sweating their workers on terms that, until quite recently, would have been unimaginable.
The incivility of one to another can be seen most sharply and poignantly in the degree of cruelty to children which, at the beginning of my working life, would have had every alarm bell ringing wildly.
I am quite used to people smirking into their sleeves when they hear that I’ve just written a book called The Islamic Enlightenment. The really helpful wags say they expect something along the lines of The Wit and Wisdom of Spiro Agnew, which was billed as a collection of all the memorable aphorisms of the former US vice-president, and contained only blank pages.
So, the Islamic Enlightenment — good for a laugh.
There is much to be faulted in Uber, which has branched out from delivering people into delivering meals, under the unappetising name UberEats. But even I, someone who can rarely bring herself to write the word ‘sharing’, as in economy, without inverted commas, am prepared to give credit where credit is due.
Uber has made private door-to-door transport accessible to far more people than before. It has thus done a lot of people a favour and hugely expanded the market, harnessing new technology to do so.
Of all the stories I’ve heard about the fallout from Brexit — families divided, work jeopardised, friendships ended — the saddest was someone on Facebook who declared that he would never again visit a Wetherspoons because the proprietor, Tim Martin, pushed for a Leave vote. This seemed to me the definition of cutting your nose off to spite your face; imagine turning down cheap beer because of the EU! But it also disrupts one of the fundamentals of a liberal society: that you do business even with those whom you disagree.