The Week

Leading article

What’s stopping us?

The Climate Change Secretary, Ed Davey, promised this week to ‘reduce the volatility of energy bills’. Unfortunately, his proposal to eliminate the peaks and troughs in the electricity market involves elevating bills to a much higher level and leaving them there. Besides the pain this will inflict on already stretched households, the result of the

Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week | 26 May 2012

Home The International Monetary Fund suggested Britain should undertake more quantitative easing or even cut interest rates. But Christine Lagarde, the IMF’s managing director, said ‘I shiver’ at the thought of Britain’s deficit in 2010 having been left without plans for fiscal consolidation. Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, made a noise for his side of


Diary – 26 May 2012

This month has been the launching season for my new collection of poems, Nefertiti in the Flak Tower. Not many younger people, I have been discovering, know what a flak tower is, or was. Perhaps I should have called the book something else. One of the poems in the book is called ‘Whitman and the

Ancient and modern

Ancient and modern: An ostracism is called for

So: Angela Merkel proposes a Greek referendum on the euro, David Cameron says the forthcoming election there is the equivalent of a referendum. But as ancient Greeks knew, what is needed at this point is an ostracism. An ostrakon (pl. ostraka) was a piece of broken pottery. It cost nothing (unlike papyrus) and was widely


Barometer: Ministers for fun

Ministers for fun David Cameron was reported to be an expert in ‘chillaxing’ through tennis and karaoke. How have other prime ministers been reported to relax? William Gladstone Chopping down trees on his estate Winston Churchill Painting Edward Heath Sailing, conducting Harold Wilson Cooking Jim Callaghan Farming Margaret Thatcher Sorting out piles of towels John


Letters | 26 May 2012

Private passions Sir: I was a pupil at St Paul’s School from 1952 to 1957. I remember seeing the bill for a term: £30 tuition, plus £15 ‘extras’ (lunches, books…). I was a scholar, so the £30 was deleted. It was no great distinction to be a scholar, as there were 153 scholars among the