At first glance, Nathan Taylor might seem the very definition of a ‘right on’ hipster. He goes by the name of ‘Sockmatician’ online and he’s famous in the knitting world for his complicated double-knit patterns. On his Instagram, in between videos of people speed-knitting and many, many photos of socks, Taylor had posts about what it was like to be an HIV-positive man who came out in the 1980s. He dislikes Donald Trump and Brexit.
Democrats have long criticized Donald Trump for his addiction to Twitter, his rolling-news attention span, the backlit narcissism of his reality-TV presidency. But the most media-addled people in public life are, in fact, Trump’s critics. Nobody is quicker to reach the most hysterical conclusions. The anti-Trump show must go on, just like the president’s Twitter feed, never mind the details.
Take Nancy Pelosi’s announcement this week that the Democrats are forming a committee to look into whether Trump should be impeached because of his dodgy negotiations with Ukraine.
When Jeremy Corbyn declared at Labour conference that his party would only allow an election once no deal had been taken off the table, MPs began to wonder if it could be put off until the new year. The Prime Minister’s tormentors can’t agree when exactly they would like to go to the country, but all agree that there are plenty of ways to torture Boris Johnson. It’s as good a way as any to pass the time.
You’re surprised? Really? What are you surprised by? The specifics — that 11 non-elected, mostly public-school-educated judges, and doubtlessly Remainers I’d guess, should put the final nail into the lid of Brexit? Yeah, sure — that knocked me for six. Never saw that coming. Or was it the generality that surprised you — we’re not getting Brexit after all? If it’s the latter, I don’t think there’s much hope for you.
Michael Gove stands in front of an empty throne in the magnificent Cabinet Office room. George III was the last monarch to use it and there it has stayed, beneath his portrait. For a second, it looks like Gove is about to sit in it and grant us an audience, but he’s only leaning over to show off the royal crest.
At the other end of the room stands a large television which, a few hours before we meet, was used by Gove and other ministers to watch Tuesday’s Supreme Court ruling.
The oil-for-security alliance between the US and Saudi Arabia, forged in 1945 when Franklin D. Roosevelt met King Abdul Aziz aboard a US Navy destroyer, is now over. Just look at the American reaction to the attack by Iran on Saudi oil facilities. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo duly called it an ‘act of war’; the Wall Street Journal told us the attack was ‘the big one’. But then nothing: President Donald Trump merely shrugged and declared the US energy independent.
The election campaign was off to an unexciting start even by Canada’s standards. A well-known but fluffy incumbent, Liberal Justin Trudeau, faced a Conservative leader, Andrew Scheer, whose strategy had been to lay low. The Trudeau message these past four years has been total political correctness: equal numbers of male and female cabinet members, ‘peoplekind’ instead of ‘mankind’ and requiring summer employment project hirees to sign a pledge to uphold abortion rights.
When my siblings and I were clearing out my dad’s bookshelves (he died earlier this year), I made sure to keep any books in which I’d written a personal dedication to him. For some reason I baulked at the idea of them passing into the hands of strangers, or just being left to languish in the anonymous corners of charity bookshops. Worse than that would have been copies of my own novels, dedicated on the title page to ‘Dad’.
Arrived in Remain-on-sea (also known as Brighton) for Labour party conference. As an old-fashioned trade unionist hailing from a working-class heartland who supports Brexit, opposes mass immigration and doesn’t believe someone with a penis can be a woman, I feel about as welcome as a hedgehog at a nudist colony. The conference centre and fringe mills with the usual throng of delegates and activists.
You could say it started because of the French. The turmoil caused by their revolution got the British military worried about the possibility of an invasion, so maps of the ‘invasion coast’ (beginning with Kent in 1801) were produced. Hence the name ‘Ordnance Survey’. Until the 1960s every director general of the agency held an army rank.
The first five-mile baseline from which everything was measured had been laid out earlier by Major-General William Roy, its two ends marked by cannons stuck in the ground.