David attenborough

I suspected the ‘liberal’ fascists would eventually get Jeremy Clarkson

I read that Jeremy Clarkson had been suspended by the BBC for ‘a fracas’ with a producer. We don’t know what happened yet – but that hasn’t stopped my phone ringing with requests for interviews from Channel Four News (natch) and, yes, the BBC – the producers beside themselves with glee. And already one witless columnist – the staggeringly hopeless Deborah Orr in the Guardian, who nobody has ever read voluntarily – demanding Clarkson resign. Before this imbecilic woman knows even the slightest about what has taken place. Strike one up for the usual ‘liberal’ fascism. What’s he done? Dunno – but sack the bastard anyway. Evil, stupid, people. I

Another enemy within: Thatcher (and Wilson) vs the BBC

In a ‘Dear Bill’ letter in Private Eye, an imaginary Denis Thatcher wrote off the BBC as a nest of ‘pinkoes and traitors’. That drollery points to the corporation’s paradoxical place in British life: an essential part of the establishment (‘Auntie’) yet sometimes its most daring critic, willing to put impartiality above patriotism. Jean Seaton makes one wonder at this impressive balancing act in a book that continues Asa Briggs’s magisterial history of the BBC up to 1987. After the war many from newly liberated Europe thanked the BBC Overseas Service for keeping hope alive during the Occupation; this was reprised after the Berlin wall fell. Yet one British government

Penelope Lively’s diary: My old-age MOT

My surgery has been calling in all those over 75 for a special session with their doctor — a sort of old-age MOT. I came out of mine pretty well, I thought: I could remember the name of the Prime Minister, blood pressure excellent, spark plugs need cleaning, windscreen wipers ineffective, bodywork showing signs of wear. But not too bad for 80. Gerontologist Tom Kirkwood, in his book Time of Our Lives, gives a clinical but excellent and entirely comprehensible account of what we should expect, and what can and cannot be done about it. His study of a group in their mid-eighties found that not one had zero age-related

Why doesn’t David Attenborough blame Muslims for overpopulation?

The national treasure and naturalist, David Attenborough, has been pronouncing, yet again, on the subject of world population growth. In an interview with the Daily Telegraph he opined that the famines in Ethiopia are about too many people competing for too little land and in the circumstances it’s ‘barmy’ to address the problem by sending them bags of flour. The great thing about being 87 is that you can stop worrying what people think but Sir David seems unusually alert to the ‘huge, huge sensitivities’ about his opinions. And one is that: ‘When you talk about world population … the areas we are talking about are Africa and Asia. To

Tweet of the day, One to One

What will you miss most if your hearing begins to diminish? Those secretly overheard snippets of conversation on the bus? The throwaway comments of partner or child? A great Shakespearean in full flow on the stage of the National? High on my list would be the Dawn Chorus. Once it starts up again in full orchestral mode you know for sure that winter is on the wane and spring must come. That cacophony of trills and warbles is a convincing restatement of nature’s invincibility. We might be doing all we can to destroy the environment but the birds are still singing loud enough to wake you from the deepest sleep.