The Arts and Humanities Research Board (AHRB) was established five years ago to support research and postgraduate study within the UK's higher education institutions. But to read its website or its voluminous guides to applicants is a depressing experience – even if it is only to familiarise oneself with the hurdles colleagues have to jump to get a bit of money most would not need if they were properly paid in the first place or did not have their creativity consumed by overlarge student bodies and by work assessments of various specious kinds.
It is Hollywood's most predictable script. 'Dazzle foreign investors, force them to spend as much as possible and then drive them out once they're broke.' For the third time in a decade, the French are beating a humiliating retreat from Beverly Hills. This time the French national champion in question – Vivendi Universal, a once mighty conglomerate run into the ground by a megalomaniac called Jean-Marie Messier – has taken such a drubbing, it is doubtful that there will ever be a sequel.
Most Spectator readers no doubt know that this is the 100th anniversary of aviation and that the patriotic American brothers, Wilbur and Orville Wright, flew the world's first aeroplane. I would imagine most of the readers have also heard of Charles Lindbergh, who was the first man to fly across the Atlantic in 1927. These names, along with Chuck Yeager, Buzz Aldrin and most recently Steve Fossett, join a host of other Americans who had 'the Right Stuff' and are etched into both the history of aviation as well as the imagination of every child enthusiast who looks up at the sky.
Do you suspect you soon may be going to lose your marbles? And are you over 65? Or do you suspect your elderly parents may be going to lose theirs? Is this loss of faculties likely to be a serious one? Then do not inquire in New Labour's New Britain for whom the bell of despair tolls. It tolls for thee.The care of the elderly mentally ill is in meltdown in much of the country and can only get far worse.
The Americans are making a hash of rebuilding Iraq, but one of the not so bad things they have done is to give Iraqis the freedom to scribble. On the wall outside the Baathist ministry of health the other day, a graffiti artist had scrawled in perfect English, 'We need a health ministry free of corruption.'For years John Pilger – 'one of the world's most renowned investigative journalists', it says on the back of his latest book – has been insisting that the West, not Saddam, is to blame for the crisis in Iraq's public health; that 5,200 Iraqi children were dying every month; that Western depleted-uranium weapons were to blame for an epidemic of cancers; that sanctions crippled Iraq's doctors.
I never used to like pornography – not really. Yes, in my teens in the Seventies I used to have the odd copy of Mayfair under my pillow; yes, as a student in the Eighties I used to filch the occasional Fiesta from my flatmates. But on the whole I didn't really go for jazz mags or blue movies. I found them tedious, repetitive, absurd and very embarrassing to buy. There was also a certain bleakness about the harder, nastier porn videos: all those sad and sorry women; all those contrived and silly poses.
To get elected in 1997 Tony Blair championed the cause of 'Mondeo Man', a hard-working, hard-driving travelling salesman who had suffered from years of negative equity and suppressed bonuses. It is not Mondeo Man, however, who has ended up as the beneficiary of Labour's six years in office. It is Principal Project Delivery Officer Person. That antihero of Chekhov, the white-collar government employee, is emerging as the hero of Blair's Britain.
Few people are entitled to more compassion than young men thus affected [by love]; it is a species of insanity that assails them, and it produces self-destruction in England more frequently than in all the other countries put together.William Cobbett, 1829What on earth is the Conservative party going to do about sexual intercourse? People are having it off all over the place, willy-nilly, apparently oblivious to the possibility that one day Hell may swallow them up and devour them for such libidinous recklessness.