Sometimes a scandal is not just a scandal, but a biopsy of a society. So it is with the assault on Sir Roger Scruton, who in recent weeks has been smeared in the media, fired by the government and had his life’s work assailed. Scruton is the latest, though far from the first victim of the modern outrage mob.
It is now four years since the Nobel prize-winning scientist Tim Hunt was fired by University College London (among other institutions who were lucky to have him).
Rory Stewart has just been appointed international development secretary. Last week, he explained to Katy Balls why he would make a good Prime Minister:
Almost nobody in Westminster admits to wanting to be prime minister. Rory Stewart is a cheerful exception. Most leadership hopefuls prefer to plot in dark corners and woo supporters in candlelit bars. The Prisons Minister is happy to sit in the sun in Hyde Park and talk openly about his ambition.
God save us from committees. They’re an increasingly outdated way of getting things done. But there’s a certain sort of person who loves them. What’s worse, they want you to love them too.
Anyone who has spent more than 15 minutes as the parent of a school-age child will be familiar with the emails. ‘Joyce has now served as treasurer of the committee for seven consecutive years, and really does want a break.
I was working in Johannesburg when I first got wind of the fact that Ireland has become an illegal back door to the UK. If you’re from a country such as South Africa, Swaziland, Lesotho, Fiji or Guyana, you need, not just a passport, but a prearranged visa, obtained from the local embassy for a fee, before you can even board a plane to Britain. It takes time, your details are checked, and you need to show a reason why you’ll go home at the end of your stay.
After hearing about the massacre in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, I went to church, happily sang the word God and stuffed £20 in the collection plate. I’m a believer and am lucky to have a lovely church on the corner of the square where I live. I attend irregularly, but on my frequent walks to my volunteer job I always enjoy disapproving as I read the list of activities going on at the community centre which is in ‘the award-winning conversion’ (the sin of pride, for starters) of the nave of the church — bridge (gambling), astrology circle (false prophets), kung-fu (violence) and pilates (vanity), all in one week! Tutting happily, I go on my merry way.
Over a drink recently I sat next to a man who announced, barely before he’d taken his first sip, that he was a feminist. ‘Like you,’ he added ingratiatingly.
Poor sap. Did he imagine that this creepy statement would actually endear me to him? That I admired his courageous stand and was prepared to hang on his every word? Not a bit of it. From that moment, I despised him.
Firstly, I’m no feminist and never have been.
The other day, as I walked with my partner through Notting Hill, we came across a shop which deserves to be visited just as an experience, or perhaps an education, for people not yet aware how extremely silly the 21st century can be.
We had heard strange and interesting things about Goop, an online store and blog run by the actress Gwyneth Paltrow, famed for its weird and often obviously ill-advised ‘remedies’ (vaginal steaming anyone?), but never knew it had a physical store.