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Topical caption, anyone?

July 18, 2017 4 comments

Vive the difference

July 17, 2017 7 comments

 

The recent cringe-worthy visit of the First Man to France demonstrated the qualities of Gallic behaviour. Larger than life, self-satisfied and fundamentally hypocritical. Excusez-moi? Did you say those adjectives describe their No. One Visitor? Oh, yes, I hadn’t noticed. By all accounts the French populace were less than impressed.

Meanwhile, back in the real world (London) his demands for a ‘better reception’ when he deigns to grace us with his ineffable presence, were met with a straightforward, ‘Well, you know the British press’. So he should not hold his presidential breathe.

Says it all really.

 

Tell me about it

July 15, 2017 17 comments

On my last visit to the Green and Pleasant Land in May, I had lunch with three cousins whom I see frequently – all oldies like me. One of them volunteers, in between some winding-down work projects, at a local food bank and had just finished a shift when we met.

I asked him what he saw and felt about the charitable work and received the following reply: ‘Well, five youngish claimants turned up in a taxi together and many of the ‘destitute’ people are obviously chain-smokers and stand outside using their smart-phones. That’s how I feel.’

So my hackles are still descending – very slowly.

Royal caption?

July 15, 2017 7 comments

Le mot juste

July 14, 2017 6 comments

Like Sheona, I need help with vocabulary.

Tennis fans yesterday witnessed our hybrid Brit hero(ine), Johanna Konta, beaten comprehensively by the elegant Murican Venus Williams. I wanted to say she gave Jo a ‘master-class’, but our other hero, Andy, would have disapproved on feminist grounds. So what is the right word?

The ties have it

July 13, 2017 8 comments

As a long-time tie-sporter, I invite you to spot every ‘tell’ revealed by the two bossmen’s neckwear.

The choice: Don’s says he’s the one. A faux-regimental or wannabe academic flourish? Vlad positively conservative.

The knot: A full Windsor each – the only way for any chief.

The length: Both afraid of a half-mast solution.

The tuck: Don letting it all hang out, Vlad avoiding any stray egg and soup.

The tie talk: Reticent smile vs. Brash bravado. Says it all.

Interesting Times

July 7, 2017 10 comments

The cost of education

July 5, 2017 35 comments

Higher education in Britain has changed radically since I were a lad. Just so you know, in 1961 I went ‘up’ for four years, with the promise of free tuition and two contributions towards my annual living costs; they were a £100 ‘state scholarship’, awarded for A-level results and a £70 college scholarship, awarded after exams at the college. Total: £170 p.a., equivalent to £3,500 today. In case you’re wondering, my parents ‘kept’ me in the vacations – which amounted to more than half the year; and I did vac. jobs too. (I did not of course have a laptop/smart phone/ipad to pay for!)

Obviously today’s university students face a different future financially. On average they borrow £50,000 by the time they graduate and no doubt many, if not most, supplement their loans by working. So it is understandable that Corbyn can promise a brave new world of gubmint support for students and gain their approval. But the utopia I enjoyed will not return.

Categories: History, Politics

Dear Christopher

June 29, 2017 12 comments

There’s bit of a vacuum here in your absence.

Please tick or cross as appropriate. Are you

  • busy with another degree/country/blog?
  • out of wifi range?
  • out of sorts?
  • in Dorset?
  • summat else? (please specify)

The spare

June 26, 2017 19 comments

One’s children cannot all have the Big Job. Since the cradle the Heir’s siblings have known they would be onlookers in history – although George VI had to step in from the bleachers when his brother succumbed to his flaws. And George was not a classic example of the more extravert, younger upstart – yet another of Fate’s ironies. Perhaps that epithet fits Margaret and Andrew better. And Harry, who clearly wishes to kick over the traces and feels frustrated by his obligations.

To misquote the NT: the royal family is in the world but not of it. But since WWII they have gradually accepted and even sought a more public rõle, to try to keep in step with other changes: the weakening class divisions, global travel, television, the internet, social media……and the cult of celebrity, with their total exposure and lack of privacy. And the Spares have naturally claimed more freedom to roam, attracted more media attention for their trouble and agonised over the ambiguity of it all.

No novelist could have invented Harry’s story. He ticks every psychological and social box and will probably continue to keep us enthralled. It’s what spares do.