David Cameron is sitting underneath a sign that reads QUIET CARRIAGE, speaking loudly enough to be heard in the next carriage. He knows that even his closest allies are worried he may lose the election if he doesn’t show more passion, so he has been trying to compensate in recent days. He chops the air with his hands as he speaks, furrows his brow, and sounds a little more angry. He has no end of passion, he says.
I can claim a milligram of credit for David Cameron’s first star billing. In early 1991, standing in for the late John Junor on the Mail on Sunday and seeking a weekly instance of some Labour frontbencher making an eejit of himself, I inquired who was the best sniper in the Conservative Research Department. The answer was David Cameron. I phoned him and, for the next three weeks, one sheet of paper arrived with brief quotes, all of them firecrackers.
Nothing is capable of undermining American democracy more than its legal system. Amid the plea bargains, perp walks and 95 per cent conviction ratings for some crimes, one feature of the system stands out as particularly rank — the role of ‘special prosecutor’. A new piece of evidence relating to a high-profile conviction eight years ago provides a perfect demonstration.
The case relates to a legal dispute spanning President George W.
‘Rhodes must fall!’ shouted angry black students at the University of Cape Town. The problem is — and it is the profoundest problem of race relations — they were also demonstrating by their every action and desire that they want Rhodes to rise even higher.
Last month a black 30-year-old student, Chumani Maxwele, in a great blaze of publicity, threw ‘human excrement’ over the statue of Cecil John Rhodes on the steps to the university’s upper campus.
Nigel Dodds, the Democratic Unionist Party leader at Westminster, is reflecting drolly on his party’s recent popularity: ‘I certainly think that the last year or two has been remarkable in the number of new friends we have encountered, people who are very keen to have a cup of tea or chat to you or whatever. I don’t put it all down to our natural charm.’ As pre-election talk of political pacts thickens — with both Conservatives and Labour angling for support — former House of Commons wallflowers have found their dance cards increasingly full.
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[/audioplayer]Perhaps you recall the moment in Les Misérables when Fantine chops off all her hair? The destitute young mother sells her long locks, then her teeth (a detail often excluded from child-friendly adaptations) before she is eventually forced into prostitution.
New York City
Nothing says New York like a psychoanalyst’s couch. Think Woody Allen or those New Yorker cartoons. It fits our perception of east-coast Americans as all neurotic and self-obsessed. But that mental picture needs updating, because traditional psychoanalysis is in dramatic decline in its traditional heartland.
Across the urban US, in fact, the profession is dying out or having to change drastically.
I first heard of Raymond Carr, who wrote for this magazine for more than 40 years, when I was in Italy in the army at the end of the second world war, and I had a letter from my sister in London saying that she had met the most marvellous man who was not only very funny but immensely clever, and I must meet him when I got back. By the time I did, Raymond had moved from being a wartime schoolmaster at Wellington College to a being a resident fellow of All Souls, Oxford.
The day of my investiture at Buckingham Palace dawned bringing freezing rain and fierce winds, which lashed at the windows as I regarded the outfit I had painstakingly planned — a lightweight, cream wool suit. A little damp didn’t bother me, so I didn’t care if I’d be shivering as Prince Charles pinned the medal on to my cape. No — it was the fate of the hat that worried me most. Designed by milliner Philip Treacy, it was a frothy creation of white grosgrain, chiffon flowers and delicate veiling, and I was concerned about the wind whipping it off.
One of the great jokes of the wine trade is:
‘Have you ever confused Burgundy with Bordeaux?’
‘Not since this morning!’
A few weeks ago, I realised it isn’t a joke. I’d been invited to take part in the Varsity Blind Wine Tasting Match. It’s sponsored by Pol Roger champagne and they thought it would be fun to have a team of journalists from The Spectator compete against the students from Oxford and Cambridge.