It’s nice to be back on the old continent again, especially after getting within a couple of hundred yards of the phoniest bunch of Hollywood East types, fakes with names such as Pelosi, Schumer, Schiff and their ilk. It meant that I flew out of the Bagel without mixed feelings for a change. America has become unrecognisable, a violent land where a Democratic Congress winks at riots and intimidations by the left, and where career criminals are seen as victims.
Nothing in the beach hotel was made of plastic. It wasn’t advertised as being a plastic-free hotel, but we noticed it. Nor was there a television in the room nor air conditioning nor a ‘no smoking’ notice on the wall nor a list of hotel rules. Instead there was a wall of books in the reception area, ashtrays from the golden age of smoking, sea breezes and an air of greater liberty. When I presented myself at reception to check in, the woman didn’t want to see a credit or identity card – my Christian name was credential enough.
‘Do you care about the woodland? Do you care about the wildlife?’ shouted the bearded Woodland Trust volunteer from his table of tree-hugging paraphernalia set up outside Waitrose.
He had pitched his camp – a trestle table covered in leaflets and bedecked with pictures of foxes and badgers – so close to the supermarket entrance on Cobham High Street that it was impossible for customers to get through the doors without running the gauntlet of his leaflets.
As the father of four children who will be entering higher education in the next few years, I’m worried that my home will shortly start to resemble a university campus. In other words, I’ll be forced to declare my preferred gender pronouns, the kitchen will be designated a ‘safe space’ and the collected works of J.K. Rowling will be burnt on the garden lawn. You may think I’m joking, but a new poll from the Higher Education Policy Institute lays bare just how thin-skinned today’s students are.
Q. My girlfriend and I have started using a personal trainer for some joint sessions at our local gym; the sessions are generally very good and we are really enjoying them. The issue is that the trainer spends quite a lot of the time on his mobile phone and it often distracts him from what he is meant to be teaching us. Sometimes we have to ask him what we are doing next while he is scrolling on his device. We are paying a lot and expect a better service, but I find it awkward saying anything to him about his phone habits.
One could get used to this. I come from seafaring stock, albeit distant. ‘Anderson’ suggests Viking antecedents, especially as my forebears came from the Shetland Islands. Yet there must have been something wrong with the first Anderson. Other Vikings reached Normandy, Sicily, even Byzantium. At the very least, they found the odd monastery to plunder. Later, their Norman descendants compensated for cultural destruction with cultural creation.
Lord Geidt said in his resignation
letter that he had been put in an odious position. He meant it was hateful,
though it is impossible to forget the malapropism (avant la lettre) of Dogberry
in Shakespeare’s Much Ado: ‘Comparisons are odorous.’
Lord Geidt’s adjective
seemed to me old-fashioned and classically inspired. Odious would have
been fashionable in the Regency period. Leigh Hunt remembered from the great
actor Kemble examples of ‘vicious pronunciation’: odious, he complained,
The Department for Transport recently ended a £1,500 subsidy towards the price of new, lower-priced electric cars one year earlier than planned. To their credit, there are better ways to promote electric-car use – for instance by encouraging the installation of public charging stations.
As it is, the spread of rapid-charging stations in the UK is bizarrely uneven. Some parts of the country are well served, but there are unexpected black spots.
In a disintegrating country, stuck for the moment with a Prime Minister who can’t see the difference between a proliferation of photo-ops and the act of governing, we needed a Royal Ascot week. No racecourse in the world does photo-ops better than Ascot – the carriage processions, the toppers and tails (and yes, Madam, wear what appears to be a pair of mating macaws on your titfer if that is what rocks your boat), the bandstand singsongs.