Ever since Boris Johnson became Prime Minister his opponents — both inside and outside his party — have been convinced that his ‘do or die’ pledge to have the UK out of the EU by 31 October would be his greatest vulnerability. ‘We’ll make him miss this deadline,’ they thought, ‘and his credibility will be shot.’ Brexit party voters would write him off as another blusterer from a Tory party unable to deliver.
Nothing in Caroline Flint’s CV would have marked her out as someone who would end up marshalling 19 of her fellow Labour MPs through the ‘aye’ lobby to vote for Boris Johnson’s deal. One of the original ‘Blair babes’, she went on to become Gordon Brown’s minister for Europe. She campaigned for Remain in the referendum but this week she ended up telling MPs that ‘the EU is not God’ while fending off accusations that she is the devil.
‘This is a true story…’ Right. Only this time, it really is. There are no wails, whistling winds or taps on window panes, so you may find it a trifle prosaic, but because my tale has none of the traditional accoutrements that may make it all the more chilling. Stay with me.
In June this year we had two cars, a Vauxhall Antara and a Volkswagen Tiguan, and it was in the Antara that we set off to the Cotswolds, from where my partner would continue to London for an event requiring evening clothes — which she had left behind in the house.
One night last week, explosions took place in three different locations in and around Stockholm. There were no injuries this time, just the usual shattered windows, scattered debris and shocked people woken by the blast.
The police bomb squad was already on its way to the first explosion in the district of Vaxholm when it had to turn around and prioritise the detonation at a residential building in the more densely populated city centre.
Jonathan Agnew recently described off-the-record interviews as those where you agree that it’s ‘between you and I’. Last month, Jess Phillips tweeted that she had ‘read a few wild accounts of Boris Johnson and I in the lobby’. And a Times journalist wrote about someone who had ‘made Jenny and I feel so welcome’. All three are articulate, intelligent people. And yet all three wrote ‘I’ where they meant ‘me’.
Percy and I have seen quite a few movies recently and enjoyed many of them, which is rare. But the most enjoyable was Judy, for the performance of its star, Renée Zellweger. I met Judy Garland many times when I had just arrived in Hollywood as a young starlet and I can tell you that Renée resembles her uncannily, both physically and emotionally. Judy was fragile and birdlike, but her voice was strong and magical.
It was a Saturday afternoon in September, the end of summer, and I was feeling sorry for myself. I’d gone to see my son play football in Slough. He was on the bench, his team had lost, and now I had to carry his kitbag home while he went out with his teammates. I’d missed my bus back to Uxbridge and it was an hour until the next one. I was trudging back into town when I saw a signpost for the Grand Union Canal.