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[/audioplayer]It must have come so easily back then. In April 2006, the young David Cameron had already assumed the mantle of leader of the Conservative party as arranged by his predecessor, Michael Howard. And as he prepared to assume the next highest office, the insult fell from his mouth with extraordinary ease.
The western world is a mess. The ‘advanced’ economies are failing to generate higher living standards for the majority of citizens. Many of us believe, rightly, that our children and grandchildren will have less prosperous lives than we do. That not only runs counter to the tide of western history, but jars with natural human instincts, creating a deep sense of unease.
The public no longer trusts the political classes to deliver a brighter future, so lots of us don’t vote.
‘If you want to send a message,’ said Sam Goldwyn, one of the men who invented Hollywood, ‘try Western Union.’ It is such a well-known remark one might have thought every film-maker of the past 50 years would have acted upon it. Not Ken Loach. After half a century of fighting the good fight on behalf of the poor, down-trodden working class, the grumpy Oxford graduate releases his latest film this week.
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[/audioplayer]Why did Alex Salmond choose this year to hold the Scottish independence referendum? People have said it is because 2014 is the 700th anniversary of Bannockburn, Scotland’s greatest victory over the English, inspiration for that ridiculous last scene in Braveheart.
Does the world have a purpose? The new atheists regard the question as absurd. Purposes emerge in the course of evolution, they tell us; to suppose that they could exist before any organism can gain a reproductive advantage from possessing them is to unlearn the lesson of Darwin. With the theory of evolution firmly established, therefore, there is no room in the scientific worldview for an original purpose, and therefore no room for God.
The polls have closed, and the result was never in doubt. With a whopping majority, Egyptians have chosen Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to be their next president. Much like his several predecessors going back to 1952 when army officers overthrew King Farouk, the new president brings to office ambitious plans to whip his countrymen into shape.
What Egyptians need, Sisi believes, is discipline.
On a cobbled street above the Maidan, an elderly man dressed in fatigues rubs his stubble in the morning sunshine. Would I like a lesson in throwing Molotov cocktails? He picks up a bottle with a long wire loop for a handle, and leads me to a burnt-out public lavatory. A match to the rags stuffed in the bottle’s mouth; an overarm swing, and the bottles smashes against the far wall, flames licking round broken stalls.
I usually spend most of the week at home in South Devon in front of my computer. But for the past five days I have been on the rampage. Or to be precise, I’ve been in London. It is an easy journey by train when the track at Dawlish doesn’t fall into the sea. Some of my fellow travellers wonder why High Speed 2 warrants £50 billion when the whole of the West Country can be cut off so easily. They are unimpressed by the line that this investment won’t stop Network Rail giving Devonians and the newly free Cornish the best rail service in the world.
I know James Bond is partial to strutting around not-quite-enveloped in a dressing gown, but whether your robe is monogrammed silk or cotton towelling, I’m guessing that unlike the famous spy, it’s not something you’d want to be spotted in.
Me neither. With one exception. When I’m at a spa. To be happy enough to be seen by strangers wandering around in a bathrobe, I have to be very comfortable in my surroundings.