Shakespeare is all things to all people. The greatest writer we have, he was subtle to the extent of ambivalence. As a man he was sexually fluid, politically ambidextrous and not prepared to commit himself on anything, least of all religion. It's sometimes said that the son of a provincial glove-maker could not have had sufficient knowledge or experience to write the plays and poems he is credited with.
The British tourism industry appears to be gripped by a form of schizophrenia. On the one hand, we are told that holidaying in Britain has never been more fashionable, with hotels and resorts enjoying a boom this summer. 'Suddenly our seaside towns are the places to be. Santorini is out. Scarborough is in,' gushed the Sunday Times last weekend.On the other hand, it is barely a month since we were warned that domestic tourism was facing its deepest ever crisis.
Few Tory MPs set off for the summer recess in a confident mood. There is unease about the opinion polls, and the leader. There is also grumbling about IDS's failure to sharpen up the shadow Cabinet, though it would have been hard for him to do that. The obvious candidates for the sack are Quentin Davies, John Hayes and Bernard Jenkin, the shadow Defence Secretary who makes Geoff Hoon look like Bismarck.
If you are looking for some fun, and have a research grant to spend, try this. Visit an American university, bump into random students in the corridor and loudly call each one 'asshole'. Then measure their reactions. This is what a team of psychologists did in a controlled experiment at the University of Michigan. The results were most interesting. Students from the southern part of the United States reacted far more violently and aggressively than those from the North, were shown to have much higher levels of cortisone and testosterone, and in tests regularly suggested more belligerent solutions to problems.
There are no cloud-capped towers, but it is a gorgeous palace – or, rather, ranch. King Hamad of Bahrain, a short, stocky but powerfully built man in his early 50s, strides out of his marble hall to shake my hand on his distinctly palatial doorstep. It is about 110 degrees Fahrenheit in the shade in this desert kingdom, so we head for the air-conditioning as swiftly as possible.His Majesty, who succeeded his father as Emir in 1999 and became King two years ago after establishing a constitutional monarchy, is between rides.
If you exclude the hypothesis that most British official statistics have been manipulated for one political purpose or another, the latest crime figures appear strange and mysterious: while crimes of violence against the person have risen by 20 per cent in a single year, other forms of crime have fallen somewhat. Since most serious crimes are committed by people who also commit many lesser crimes, and clear-up rates are at an all-time low, the figures are surprising, to say the least.
The lightening of Tony Blair's mood on Sunday afternoon was palpable. For two days, ever since news of David Kelly's suicide broke during his Far-East tour, the Prime Minister had looked haggard and broken. His voice went miserable and panicky. But the BBC announcement that Dr Kelly was the source for reporter Andrew Gilligan brought the colour back to the Prime Minister's cheeks. Tony Blair and his Downing Street strategists believed that the revelation that Kelly was the source gave them the chance to seize victory in their six-week-old war against the BBC.
There was a strange sort of hiatus between Andrew Gilligan's report on the Today programme that Alastair Campbell had 'sexed up' some of the evidence about Iraq's threat to the West, and Mr Campbell's rage at being so accused. It lasted for nearly four weeks. Immediately after Gilligan made his report, there was a brief letter of complaint from Campbell – not an unusual eventuality – but nothing more; just this rageless lacuna.