The Blind can See

Most of us live our lives quite happily without having to cope with the nonsense which afflicts civil servants and local authority employees. We are rational. We are not terrified of facing up to reality just because to do so may offend “minorities”. But others are different from us. They spend every waking moment worrying about whether they are being “incorrect”. They live in terror of being accused of upsetting those minorities. As a result, they adopt barmy theories, most of which assume that the rest of us, the sane, are very bad people. Continue reading

Amber Rudd Refuses to Allow the Facts to Interfere with a Rant

I must enter an immediate caveat: I am baffled by modern technology. I listen with enormous admiration to my friends, some of them even as old as I am, as they speak with terrifying confidence about the extraordinary things they can do with the internet and with things which they call “apps”. But, long ago, I accepted that all that sort of thing was beyond me. I muddle along reasonably happily, but I know there is an amazing new world out there which will for ever be closed to me.

Nevertheless, I have made a real effort to understand what it is that has made our Home Secretary incandescent with rage about one of those apps. Let me first try to set out the facts (I may have got them all wrong but I don’t think I have).

There is a piece of software known as What’s App. It enables its users to send messages over the internet to their pals which can’t be intercepted by anyone else, not by crooks, not by the state and not even by the company (I think it may be Facebook) which created the device. On the whole, it sounds like rather a good thing. In these days when most communications over the internet can be hacked by criminals it strikes me that we should be pleased there is now a way of sending messages which is safe. Continue reading

Deja Vu

Yesterday my gigantically intelligent, charming and attractive niece, Livvy Utley, found herself locked into Parliament for many hours as a result of the murder, in and near to the Parliamentary estate, of three innocent people by a deranged criminal. Livvy, I should explain, works for an MP.

Thirty eight years ago next week I was working for an MP in the House of Commons when INLA killed Airey Neave MP by planting a bomb in his car. The bomb exploded as he drove the car up the ramp from the Commons underground car park. By chance, I was making my way to the car park when the bomb went off. I was one of the first people on the scene. I hasten to say that I did nothing at all heroic. Indeed, I knew there was nothing I could do except watch the emergency services rush into action. Continue reading

Can One Change from Light to Dark Blue?

A few years ago we were gathered round the television to watch the Boat Race. I explained to the children that we supported Cambridge. The boats set off. The children and I cheered for Cambridge. Then, about five minutes into the race (that is usually when it becomes clear which crew will win), Oxford pulled ahead. One of my sons, aged about five, suddenly changed his allegiance. From being a confirmed Cambridge man he became, in a split second, a fanatical Oxford supporter. That was not altogether surprising. His approach to sport was always to be on the winning side. But most of us, of course, tend to be rather more loyal.

I have always supported Cambridge. It’s not that I went there. It’s just that my father did, and therefore there was no question as to which shade of blue I should be. Many British people commit themselves to either Oxford or Cambridge with no family connection to either university. But that doesn’t weaken their support for one or the other. Continue reading

I Defeated the Teenagers

I wonder if other parents of modern teenagers have this problem.

As our delightful children were growing up we had to live with their tiresome food fads. The oldest, from a very early age, insisted that she could only eat pasta. Number two wasn’t too bad. He always loved meat (unless there were any fancy sauces). Offal, obviously, was out of the question. Funnily enough, the youngest went through quite a healthy stage of being prepared to be daring and eat such dangerous things as shellfish, but he soon learned that he was letting the side down and had to insist on nursery food.

I always assumed that, once they became teenagers, they would discover good food. How wrong I was. Continue reading

Editing the Evening Standard is not a Full Time Job

George Osborne has come in for a lot of flack for accepting the post of editor of the Evening Standard while remaining an MP. Those who think MPs should be social workers, devoting all their time to sorting out their constituents’ complaints about the local council, are, not surprisingly, infuriated that Mr Osborne has taken the job. But I doubt whether his new responsibilities will stop him doing the real work of an MP. Continue reading

UKIP 2.0

Arron Banks is to establish a new party. Best of luck with that, UKIP became a one trick pony with an ineffectual leadership. The title “Patriotic Alliance” is being touted, I hope it is not going to become a refuge for flag waving xenophobic types.