A fortnight before Philip Hammond delivered his last Budget, the chief executive of the NHS gave a speech making the case for more funding. Simon Stevens had brought with him picture of a Vote Leave poster, promising £350 million a week for the health service, which he showed to his audience. What a good idea, he said. He wasn’t coming out as a Brexiteer, but he did think the Leavers had a point about giving an extra £350 million a week to the National Health Service.
In all the agonising about Islamism, and what to do about it, it would be a mistake to forget a very useful fact: that Britain has a special relationship with Islam and has done for centuries. The friendship with Islam is unique.
Spain was home to Andalusia, a Muslim empire for 700 years. The Germans, Poles and Austrians saw off Turkish Muslim invaders in the Siege of Vienna in 1529 and then again at the Battle of Vienna in 1683.
When asked to describe in three words what it means to win Badminton, the world’s most challenging and prestigious equestrian event, Jonelle Price — this year’s victor and the first woman to take the title for a decade — knocked back a glass of champagne and answered: ‘Dreams. Come. True.’
For the past 20 years Jonelle has relied on dreams and phenomenal willpower to get to the top of the exclusive and very expensive sport of eventing.
I meet Bernard-Henri Lévy in a colossally luxurious hotel on a tree-lined avenue just behind the Elysée Palace. The French philosopher is half-reclining on a sofa, with one ankle tucked under his thigh, beneath an ornamental bookcase bearing a bust of Voltaire. He wants to discuss his new play, Last Exit Before Brexit, which will receive its world premiere at Cadogan Hall, London, on 4 June, under the auspices of the Hexagon Society.
When my husband, John, was born in 1946, doctors were the chief agents of adoption. His mother was young, single, pregnant and desperate. Her doctor had another patient, a happily married but childless woman in search of a baby. The doctor, knowing the two women, solved both their problems by handing John to his new parents at birth.
Thirty years later I adopted my Cambodian daughter, Li-Da, with minimal fuss.
Politics and sport should never mix is the hoary old chestnut — but they always do. It’s a thrilling concoction. In just under three weeks, the World Cup kicks off in Russia and while I can’t vouch for the quality of the footie, the whole extravaganza is likely to be edge-of-the-seat stuff. At the end, Vladimir Putin will either be grinning like a creamed-up cat or grinding his teeth in rage, lamenting about what might have been.
I was collecting my daughter from school when my path was blocked by an enormous black Range Rover sitting in the middle of the road. As I squeezed past, one tyre on the pavement, I opened my window and asked, as gently as I could: ‘Why don’t you drive on your side of the road?’ The woman looked down from on high and said: ‘Why are you driving a banger?’
I’ve been trying to come up with a clever response ever since.
A sterix, te amamus! For those not lucky enough to learn their Latin from the dazzling René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo comic books, that means: ‘Asterix, we love you!’
How brilliant the Asterix books are and how very clever in their puns and deep appreciation of Roman history.
A new exhibition at the Jewish Museum in Camden shows how much research Goscinny the writer and Uderzo the artist put into the books; and yet, like so much hard-won art, the result looks effortlessly light.