In the next few days, on 3 and 4 December, Prime Minister Boris Johnson will host a grand international conference of 29 North American and European nations to mark the 70th anniversary of the foundation of Nato — the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, which, led by the United States, kept the peace during the fraught years of Cold War confrontation with the Soviet Union. We are told that the Queen will give a reception in honour of the heads of state and government and that Donald Trump has accepted the invitation.
Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell are part of a breed of socialists who argue that this time will be different. Socialism never failed, they insist: only the walls, barbed wire and jackboots did. So what they plan for Britain, while radical, is bound to work! True, it’s more radical than anything done in any European country today. Comparisons with Venezuela or Cuba or Soviet Russia are unfair, they say.
When most rock stars have trouble sleeping, they fall back on Valium, temazepam, heroin or Jack Daniel’s. But Pete Townshend, guitarist and songwriter for The Who and — we’re pleased to discover — Spectator subscriber, isn’t much like most rock stars. Sober now for three decades, he calls instead on his wife Rachel’s psychic powers.
‘Sometimes,’ he says, ‘when I’m having difficulty sleeping, Rachel — who has some… certainly, some kind of healing powers — will say to me, “Do you want me to send you a sleep bubble?” Now, I often go’ — he mimes squirming like a reluctant child — ‘“No, of course I don’t need you to send me a bloody sleep bubble! I’ll just take more codeine.
Ephraim Mirvis, the Chief Rabbi, was right to take the unprecedented action of denouncing Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour for endemic anti-Jewish prejudice. James Cleverly, the Conservative chairman, was right to draw attention to polls showing half of British Jews are contemplating emigration if Labour wins. The Jewish Chronicle was right to turn its cover into an unprecedented open letter, begging Britain’s non-Jews not to vote for Corbyn.
My beloved grandmother died at 90, and my mother at 89, after having Alzheimer’s for 11 years. So I am not rattled by the old; I find their memory lapses challenging rather than frightening. (If I were the full-time carer of an elderly husband, it might be another matter. One woman described it as being strangled slowly by a python.)
I recently visited 96-year-old Sir Peregrine Worsthorne, former columnist, journalist and editor of the Sunday Telegraph, at his house in Bucks.
If the age of deference were still with us, the mortuary tag has now been tied to its toe following Prince Andrew’s Newsnight interview. I saw him a couple of weeks ago at a military charity event where he did a good job, showing how the royals frequently but quietly add value to important causes. His performance in front of Emily Maitlis, fast becoming Britain’s best interviewer, was (to put it politely) less impressive.
Pauline, Petrova or Posy? Which Fossil sister are you? Or, rather, which Fossil sister did you hope to be when you first read Noel Streatfeild’s Ballet Shoes? It has to be Posy. The third and last adopted Fossil arrives in a basket with a note — ‘This is the little daughter of a dancer’ — and tiny slippers. For any girl who has ever imagined taking the stage in pointe shoes, the Freed factory in Hackney is a dream of pink satin.