England’s habitually well-mannered and inoffensive chalk streams have been uncharacteristically full of themselves this last week or so — as you may have gathered from your television evening news programmes or, if you’re unlucky, your kitchen.PangbourneEngland’s habitually well-mannered and inoffensive chalk streams have been uncharacteristically full of themselves this last week or so — as you may have gathered from your television evening news programmes or, if you’re unlucky, your kitchen.
We all know that correct English is no longer taught in most of our schools, but now at last the government seems to agree.A few weeks ago it announced the introduction of new A-level grades to make it more difficult to achieve the highest ranking. From next year pupils will have to gain 80 per cent to be awarded an A-grade A-level and 90 per cent if they are to earn an A* — and they will not be allowed to sit the exam again to achieve a higher mark.
A civic reception will take place next month for the Glasgow airport workers and travellers whose courage on Saturday 30 June when bombers struck the terminal building may well have prevented horrific slaughter.John Smeaton, a 31-year-old baggage handler, became the emblematic figure for a day when God smiled on Glasgow. His comment that he was only doing his civic duty was indeed a boost for the battered concept of citizenship.
It’s four in the afternoon in the Garrick Club and Norman Stone is steaming with rage. The steam is not alcohol-fuelled. Professor Stone — historically no flincher from the glass — is on the wagon at the moment but is feeling no undue withdrawal pangs. He is, though, longing for a cigarette, and his beloved Garrick has just outlawed smoking, in line with the new legislation.It’s four in the afternoon in the Garrick Club and Norman Stone is steaming with rage.
He was damned because he did, but he would have been equally damned if he hadn’t. David Cameron’s decision to come to Rwanda this week — which honours commitments he had made both to the country and members of his own party who are out here working on a two-week volunteering scheme called Project Umubano — appeared controversial because it was taken in the wake of terrible flooding in Britain and two thumping by-election defeats.
It is horrible to imagine. It would be a tragedy, for party and country. Even contemplating it seems lurid and, given recent events, deeply mischievous. It is certainly not something for loyal Tories to discuss in public. But, in their darker moments, few Conservative politicians will have not asked themselves the question in the past turbulent week: if David Cameron were to be run over by a bus tomorrow, who would lead the Conservative party?At Westminster, it is amazing how quickly today’s parlour game can become tomorrow’s leadership battle.