The occasion was a central European conference on the subversive disinformation campaigns of Putin’s Russia (which, incidentally, are real, subtle, and potentially effective). The speaker was an American warning that the central European democracies were in imminent danger of succumbing to the lures of authoritarian populism, even of abandoning democracy itself, under this influence. He cited the probable election of the media billionaire Andrej Babis as prime minister in Czech elections as one sign of this democratic collapse.
The continuing saga of Henry Bolton’s notional leadership of Ukip continues to amaze and amuse and appal in equal measure. The press loves a freak show and, in the absence of anything better, Ukip is the best circus in town. You might think it odd to give so much attention to a party that won just 2 per cent of the vote in last year’s general election — but this is all about Kipperism, which is bigger than Ukip.
‘If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense,’ said Alice. ‘Nothing would be what it is because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn’t be. And what it wouldn’t be, it would. You see?’
For the United States, and for the rest of us, Lewis Carroll is as good a guide as any to what is happening in northern Syria right now. Turkey — America’s Nato ally — has sent tanks rolling across the border to attack the Kurds, America’s ally against Isis.
I am in a good position to report from the NHS frontline, having been in hospital with pneumonia for just over a week from 28 December.
I was admitted following an early evening visit from a district nurse to the home I share with my younger daughter, her husband and their three children. The nurse rang A&E to advise them of my impending arrival but warned us that there was a four-hour wait for an ambulance.
You’re in the index, but not in the book. This ghostly sensation has been my experience since 1990 after commissioning Auberon Waugh to review Anthony Powell’s Miscellaneous Verdicts.
Waugh’s verdict appeared in the Sunday Telegraph on 20 May that year. Next morning, Powell resigned in a celebrated huff from the sister paper, of which I happened to be literary editor.
When, seven years later, Powell published his Journals, I wanted to know how he dealt with this incident which had caused acute distress.
Hard left, my arse. Sorry to be vulgar, but surely that’s how Jim Royle, couch-potato patriarch of that glorious sitcom The Royle Family, would have reacted to reports that the ‘hard left’ Momentum movement is planning a ‘massacre of the moderates’ in the parliamentary Labour party.
Don’t get me wrong. Having seized control of Labour’s National Executive Committee, Momentum is itching to purge the party’s benches of MPs who are insufficiently obsequious to Jeremy Corbyn.
The #MeToo movement began, I thought, primarily to allow women to speak out about harassment from men, which they had previously found too intimidating to declare openly. What is striking is how quickly it has turned into a row between women. Social media is crackling with barely concealed inter-generational rage between feminists of different vintages. Younger feminists are very keen on ‘calling out’ slut-shaming, victim-shaming and fat-shaming.
I have fallen in love with the c2c, a whisker of a train that is never delayed. It operates between London and Essex; Fenchurch Street and Shoeburyness. Its name stands for ‘anything you want it to’, according to the company’s website — everything from ‘capital to coast’ to ‘commitment to customers’. Over the past year, I have become a complete convert, a cheerful champion of the c2c as it whisks me into Essex and on to the north side of the Thames Estuary, where I like to walk with a man called Malt.