You can blame it on David Willetts. A while back, he published a book called The Pinch arguing that the older generation had swindled the young out of their rightful economic inheritance and should give it back. Baby boomers (those born soon after the war) had enjoyed free university tuition, affordable housing and a thriving economy. Yet the legacy they have left to the young was a crash, eye-watering tuition fees and a gargantuan national debt.
What is it about the Lake District? The weather is often filthy, the locals are famously surly (‘sup up and sod off’ reads the sign above the bar) and its lakes are dwarfed by the great waterways of the Alps. And yet I’ve been walking here more times than I can count. From childhood camping trips to grown-up get-aways, from tents and caravans to timeshares, I’ve measured out the holidays of half a lifetime in the Lakes.
I was delighted to hear that the Duchess of Cambridge had a healthy baby boy. The build-up to the royal birth during the last week has been phenomenal. Even my tiny ‘Contented Little Baby’ office has been affected by the birth of our future king — our email inbox is getting fuller by the day with inquiries from interested mothers about how I think the royal baby should be brought up — so much so that we have had to allocate a file called ‘Baby Cambridge’!
The majority of emails ask what advice I would give the Duchess to help her through the early weeks of motherhood.
As a council house tenant who despises the idea of right-to-buy, I have to admit that George Osborne has put me in a quandary. Like all Tories, the Chancellor likes home ownership — after all, people who own rather than rent are more likely to vote Tory. It’s hard for him to repeat Margaret Thatcher’s right-to-buy trick because it was so successful that there’s hardly any council housing left to flog.
The installation of Hassan Rouhani as President of Iran next month heralds a new chapter for the country. It is clear that he was elected not only because it was felt — both at the highest levels and by the people — that he was best placed to negotiate with the West on Iran’s nuclear programme but also because he was the candidate most likely to appeal to reform-hungry Iranians.
Rouhani is a protégé of the former president Muhammed Khatami, with whom I have had the chance to work.
How pleasant it is to live in the 21st century, enlightened, no longer scared of science. We can marvel at the diversity of life with David Attenborough; face the vastness of the cosmos with Brian Cox. These days we talk of colliders and particles as casually as we shop for milk. Science is our oyster.
Except of course when it comes to genetics. Just try starting an excited conversation about gene therapy, or about the young Chinese genius Zhao Bowen, who is, right now, hunting down the genes for intelligence.
Within waving distance of blessed solid ground, Susan Taylor lost her bid to swim the Channel — and, with it, her life. She was 34 years old, brainy and beautiful, gifted and giving; it is, indeed, a peculiarly bitter irony that it was the giving that killed her. For years she had been an avid fundraiser, facing all manner of challenges in charitable effort, and for this, her final swim, she even gave up her job as an accountant to train: admirable in intent, courageous in execution.