You know how it is: you’re sat next to some awful bore at a dinner party. Donald Trump feels your pain. The New York Times spots him sat alongside the interminably dull Akie Abe, wife of Japan Prime Minister Abe, at the G20 bun fight. They didn’t talk – which is wise because once Akie gets started on depictions of women on Manga comics, drip-dry toilets, why Japan hasn’t apologised for its treatment of prisoners in World War 2, the absence of a memorial to the thousands of Korean slaves killed at Hiroshima and the subjugation of females in her contry you’ll need a wall to stop her. Japanese women, eh, they’re such rule breakers.
So, I was seated next to the wife of Prime Minister Abe [Shinzo Abe of Japan], who I think is a terrific guy, and she’s a terrific woman, but doesn’t speak English.
HABERMAN: Like, nothing, right? Like zero?
TRUMP: Like, not “hello.”
HABERMAN: That must make for an awkward seating.
TRUMP: Well, it’s hard, because you know, you’re sitting there for——
TRUMP: So the dinner was probably an hour and 45 minutes.
But she does – or at least she can read English.
And did Trump forget his fluent Japanese?
Winston Churchill and Dwight Eisenhower didn’t want us to know about King Edward VIII’s plans for peace with Adolf Hitler and Nazis. Papers released by The National Archives considered “too difficult, too sensitive” include a 1953 “top secret” memo from Churchill discussing German telegrams carrying reports by Nazi-sympathiser the Duke of Windsor, as Edward VIII was known after he abdicated in 1936.
“He is convinced that had he remained on throne war would have been avoided and describes himself as firm supporter of a peaceful compromise with Germany,” says one telegram from Portugal, where the duke was staying in July 1940. “Duke believes with certainty that continued heavy bombing will make England ready for peace.”
Edward abdicated so he could marry an American divorcee, Wallis Simpson. The couple set up home in France, but when World War II broke out they moved to Spain. The government in Madrid, formally neutral but sympathetic to Germany, asked for guidance from Berlin as to what should be done with them. German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop replied, asking if they could be kept there. Then he ordered a watch on their house.
Ribbentrop’s interest was piqued when he was told, a few days later, that in private “Windsor spoke strongly against Churchill and against this war.” While he considered what to do, the duke and duchess made their way to Portugal, where they made similar comments. The Nazis decided to act.
“The duke should return to Spain under all circumstances,” Ribbentrop wrote, adding that they should then be “persuaded or forced” to stay there. His plan was then to offer the duke “the granting of any wish,” including “the ascension of the English throne.”
Churchill duly made the Nazi Windsor governor of the Bahamas.
When the Windsors were reluctant to leave Europe, Churchill threatened Edward, who held honorary military rank, with court-martial. Ribbentrop, anxious not to let his prize escape, launched Operation Willi to persuade the Windsors to return to Spain, kidnapping them if necessary. But despite sabotage attempts and bomb threats, the Germans failed.
The plan was “to persuade the duke to leave Lisbon in a car as if he were going on a fairly long pleasure jaunt, and then to cross the border at a specified place, where Spanish secret police will ensure a safe crossing,” according to a note sent to Ribbentrop.
You can read more on how close the UK came to being overrun by Nazis in this great story on Flashbak.
The Advertising Standards Authority once complained about this site. An advert featuring Page 3 stunna Lucy Pinder was sexist, they alleged. Pinder welcomed readers to Old Mr Anorak’s throbbing organ, which for filthy lucre had been sheep-dipped in Lynx, the stuff that drives women wild with lust. It was all a lot of nonsense. Pinder was willing. No readers were damaged. And rumours abound of a whole generation of young Anoraks. Now the ASA is going for other “gender-stereotypical” commercials, seeking to censor inappropriate ads “that feature stereotypical gender roles”.
There’ll be no more Pinder presenting her primary sexual characteristics like Saint Agatha in a bikini. No more Oxo mum feeding her family. No more Ronseal man telling us it does “exactly” what it says on the tin. And no more ads for yoghurts in which a baby-voiced female celebrity talks about her “tummy”.
Such amplification of “stereotypical gender roles” can “cause harm”. These ads “reinforce assumptions that adversely limit how people see themselves and how others see them”. It turns out that Lynda Bellingham is a bigger role model than your actual mum and dad.
So mum gets the power drill for Christmas after all, and dad gets a trip to Iceland for own-brand ketchup and other tastes of regret.
How’s that for progress?
Transfer Balls: The Manchester Evening News has big news for Arsenal and Manchester United fans: “Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho talks Alexis Sanchez.”
Can it be that Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez is on Manchester United’s shopping list? Having reached the MEN’s scoop through Google News, the story begins:
Jose Mourinho has admitted it is a ‘shame’ Manchester United did not sign Alvaro Morata and appeared to dismiss any chance of a move for Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez.
He only “appeared” to. So there’s a chance Mourinho wants Sanchez.
When Mourinho was asked by a Spanish journalist if United were attempting to sign Morata, he replied in Spanish: “It is a question for Florentino [Perez, the Real president]. I don’t know the first thing about Sanchez.”‘
Weird answer, no? Mourinho just tags Sanchez onto the end of a reply. Has he done that to wind up Arsenal and Manchester City, who were said to be keen on the Chilean? No. He’s not talking about Alexis Sanchez. He’s talking about Jose Angel Sanchez, Real Madrid’s director general.
Mourinho: “A possibilidade de Morata jogar no United é uma questão para Florentino Pérez e Jose Angel Sanchez.” pic.twitter.com/MPK28aTI4P
— Portal Madridista (@RMadrid11BR) July 16, 2017
But The Metro didn’t even bother to read that. It thunders:
Freudian slip? Jose Mourinho mentions Alexis Sanchez to send Manchester United fans into transfer meltdown
Undeterred by fact, the Metro coughs up a cut-out-and-keep guff of dire journalism. This is it pretty much the clickbait balls in full:
Jose Mourinho has got Manchester United fans very excited by accidentally mentioning Alexis Sanchez’s name when asked an unrelated question at his post-match press conference.
The Portuguese oversaw a 5-2 victory against LA Galaxy in the early hours of Sunday morning, and afterwards he was asked, among other things, about Real Madrid frontman Alvaro Morata.
But curiously, Mourinho appeared to get the Spanish striker and Arsenal’s wantaway Chilean mixed up, with many fans now speculating that it was a Freudian slip hinting at genuine interest.
When Mourinho was asked by a Spanish journalist if United were attempting to sign Morata, he replied in Spanish: ‘It is a question for Florentino [Perez, the Real president]. I don’t know the first thing about Sanchez.’
The exchange got pulses racing, with United fans debating whether it was an accidental slip of the tongue or something more substantial…
Of course, it is possible that the Special One innocently misspoke, or he would even have been referring to a different player – midfielder Renato Sanches, perhaps.
But even his choice of language – saying ‘I don’t know’ rather than categorically ruling out a transfer… has got United fans hot under the collar.
One day on from that total balls, the Metro reads the clicks, senses that it’s on to something and produces the follow-up piece:
Why Jose Mourinho – not Pep Guardiola – is the perfect manager for Alexis Sanchez
Ewan Roberts didn’t bother to check the source of his opinion piece. He just thunders:
Jose Mourinho doesn’t do innocent slips of the tongue. Depending on how cynical you are, his name-dropping of Alexis Sanchez over the weekend ranks somewhere between a Freudian slip or the planting of a seed. Whether he intended to or not, the Portuguese has inserted Manchester United onto the list of potential suitors for the Chilean – and they may even top it, with Old Trafford arguably a better fit than their sky blue rivals down the road.
The article based on poor research and what looks like a cynical disregard for readers trawls on and on, pausing a while to produce a graphic of what Sanchez would look like in the United side:
It’s “random” stuff says one writer at the clickbait-driven Telegraph:
More great journalism when we spot it.
Barring a gigantic transfer fee that makes his departure irresistible, Alexis Sánchez will be at Arsenal next season. The club has done the sums and worked out that selling their best player to a rival would be a failure. So they’ll keep him and wave goodbye to the Chilean when he leaves as a free agent next summer. They’ll keep the £140,000 a week extra they were going to pay him in a new contract – one he rejected. And, vitally, Arsenal will field a player who boosts their team’s chances of a swift return to Champions’ League football, which they missed out on for the first time in over 20 years with last season’s fifth-placed finish.
“The decision has been made and we will stick to that,” Arsene Wenger, the team’s manager, told media. “The decision is not to sell.”
So Sanchez stays. Keeping him also means Arsenal need not look around for his replacement, which given their status outside the Champions’ League makes signing top talent even more expensive. Just look at the huge premium Manchester United had to fork out to get Paul Pogba.
Arsenal fans should be happy. The deal shows that the club has a long-term plan for success.
When Thom Yorke’s gave BDS the finger, we cheered. You should cheer too. The monocular Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) mob demanded Radiohead cancel their show in Tel Aviv, Israel – a country vast in the Bible and Leftish dogma but in reality small and dusty. “Their ill-advised concert in Tel Aviv suggests to me that they only want to hear one side – the one that supports apartheid,” said Jeremy Corbyn’s mate Ken Loach in the Independent. “Every international artist who plays in Israel serves as a propaganda tool for the Israeli government.”
Anyone who saw and enjoyed the Corbyn set at Glastonbury will hope the Jewish state finally sees sense and Tel Aviv gets twinned with Somerset and Islington. Politics is music and music is politics, hymns the popular song of the correct, compassionate and knowing.
Many more have added their voices to the chorus seeking to impose a cultural blockade on Israel, its peoples and anyone who agrees with them in the spirit of – get this – inclusivity, equality and diversity. Desmond Tutu, Roger Waters, Thurston Moore and Dave Randall were all aghast at Radiohead’s concert in the Israeli beach-side city. “Music helps drown out the cries of the oppressed,” opined Randall without irony. Music does more harm than good. It’s the kind of message sure to get a sympathetic ear among the Taliban.
“Anybody who’s tempted to do that, like our friends in Radiohead, if only they would actually educate themselves,” advises knowing Waters, who addresses Yorke in an open letter on a BDS live chat: “I look forward to – if you feel like it, when you finish your trip to Israel, because you probably still will go – write me a letter and tell me how much good you did and how much change you managed to affect by chatting with musicians.”
In the face of the scholarly and superior Waters, Yorke is defiant. “We’ve played in Israel for over 20 years through a succession of governments, some more liberal than others,” he said. “As we have in America. We don’t endorse Netanyahu any more than Trump, but we still play in America. Music, art and academia is about crossing borders, not building them, about open minds not closed ones, about shared humanity, dialogue and freedom of expression.”
He goes on. “Imagine how offensive that is for Jonny.. [Radiohead’s Johnny Greenwood is married to an Arab-Jew]. Just to assume that we know nothing about this. Just to throw the word ‘apartheid’ around and think that’s enough. It’s fucking weird. It’s such an extraordinary waste of energy.”
Although it’s not weird to make the world’s one Jewish state a special case for censorship. Israel’s unique status among the enlightened too-often smells of something horribly familiar and nasty. Throughout history the people of God’s dad are often a special case.
But never fear, Jews and your apologists. The Devil always has the best tunes. Pink Floyd’s Waters – a fair-minded and reasoned man who compares modern-day Israel to Germany under the Nazis – can’t make it. But Guns ‘n Rose can. Take it away, Slash:
Transfer Balls – a look at dire football reporting.
When Tiemoue Bakayoko was on his way from Monaco to Chelsea, the media was fanning the baseless news story that he was contemplating a last-minute switch to Manchester United,
Above a story about Bakayoko having his medial at Chelsea, the Manchester Evening News told its readers: “Monaco star Tiemoue Bakayoko’s Manchester tweet sends Chelsea fans into meltdown.” The headline had nothing to do with the story, which went on to explain that Bakayoko had been prodded and probed at Chelsea’s Cobham training ground before heading out for dinner with some of the club’s players.
What Chelsea fans were in meltdown over that? The MEN didn’t say.
But that total tosh was topped by the London Evening Standard which managed to corrupt the simple fact ‘Footballer Undergoes Chelsea Medical’ into “Tiemoue Bakayoko tweet sparks panic among Chelsea fans as he arrives in England for £40m transfer”.
Meltdowns. Panics. Might be an idea for jittery Chelsea fans to stay away from the news, which operated in the twilight zone between utter balls and economical truth.
The Express had previously told its readers: “MANCHESTER UNITED have agreed a £35million deal to hijack Chelsea’s move for Tiemoue Bakayoko.”
One day and on even the Express clickbait farm admitted the story was bilge: “MANCHESTER UNITED do not want to sign Chelsea target Tiemoue Bakayoko and have not submitted a bid for the Monaco midfielder.”
Such are the facts.
That the latest incarnation of Dr Who is a woman and not a child or a fridge freezer has not escaped the Sun and the Daily Mail. The papers reviewed Jodie Whittaker’s pre-postgrad career in time travel and noticed that she’s appeared starkers.
Both tabloids have shown their readers pictures of Whittaker naked or topless in previous acting work. To which you might wonder, ‘So what?’ She’s a grown woman who took the roles that required disrobing in the best possible taste under free will. But something called the Equal Representation for Actresses (ERA), is upset. “We are delighted by the casting of Jodie Whittaker as the 13th Doctor,” says the camping group without humour, mistaking the BBC’s Verne-fed gurn-fest for an actual character. “However, we are surprised and disappointed by the Daily Mail and the Sun’s reductive and irresponsible decision to run a story featuring pictures of Jodie in various nude scenes.”
The show’s Daleks were naked, moreover the Cyberman and K-9, Dr Who’s robot dog. All nude. Why is it different for Whittaker? Is it because women are so weak that she needs special protection?
Doctor of Morals
Everything about the BBC’s cash-cow is contrived to milk viewers. What began as a bit of fun is now a marketing campaign so message-laden Dr Who should be recast as a Royal Mail van driver. The last Dr Who looked like your grandfather, or at least the head of English at an inner-city Academy. He was tooled-up with a magic screwdriver in place of plot. When that MacGuffin flagged, he scored a gay female sidekick, who for added twitter-appeal was also black. “It shouldn’t be a big deal in the 21st Century. It’s about time isn’t it?” Pearl Mackie, who played the sidekick told the BBC. “That representation is important, especially on a mainstream show.”
Good for her. But the suspicion is that her identity-first role was led less by desire for change than it was it to suppress desire of a more base sort in the Beeb’s post-Savile era. There was no chance of the Aunty who tuned a blind eye to depravity letting old man Peter Capaldi anywhere near someone young and female who could be perceived as some kind of love interest.
So now you get Dr Who who looks most like a primary school teacher, albeit one with a racier past. She’s safe around children, and on parents’ evening, there’s something for dad to contemplate.
In Manchester new Chinese bikes are creating artificial reefs in the city’s waterways. It’s terrific. Although it might not be what the Chinese company behind bicycle sharing service Mobike envisioned when it launched in the UK. Can Mobike disrupt Manchester travel?
I really wanted to believe that Mancunians could be trusted with nice things. Just over a fortnight ago, a Chinese company called Mobike brought 1,000 shiny new silver and orange bikes to my city. Unlockable with a smartphone and available to rent for just 50p for half an hour, they could be ridden wherever you liked within Manchester and Salford and, crucially, could be left anywhere public once you were done.
I was an immediate convert, boasting about the superiority of our new bike-sharing system over London’s, pitying sadsacks in the capital who had to trundle around looking for a docking station. One sunny evening shortly after the launch, I rode a Mobike to Salford Quays, where I swam a mile in the filtered water of the glistening Lowry, reflecting as I did my backstroke that Manchester was starting to feel rather European. I had always fancied living in Copenhagen, where the cyclist is king and the harbour has been turned into a lido. Was I now living that continental dream?
Two weeks on and I fear that a dream is all it was. There are Mobikes in the canal, Mobikes in bins and I am fed up with following the app to a residential street where there is clearly a Mobike stashed in someone’s garden. On launch day, the Chinese designer told me the bikes were basically indestructible and should last four years without maintenance. It took a matter of hours before local scallies worked out how to disable the GPS trackers and smash off the back wheel locks.
On Thursday, none of the eight bikes showing on the app as being near my house were actually there. I was so incensed when I reached the location of the ninth and could see it locked away in a backyard that I lost control of my senses and knocked on the door. A young man opened it and I asked nicely if I could rent the bike. He looked surprised and said, no, it was his, and anyway, he needed it later. I explained that was not how the system worked, that the bikes were public, and that if everyone was as selfish as him the whole thing would collapse. He rolled his eyes and told me I would be trespassing if I dared try to fetch it.
You see, what works in a totalitarian state where everyone’s being monitored doesn’t work in Manchester. Good-oh. Theft isn’t right, of course not. But to assume compliance and that people offered a 50p bike ride home will treat the thing with dutiful respect represents a failure to understand your target market.
PS: Chinese airline Wings of China can update its advice to travellers visiting the UK. The 2016 Air China guide told its passengers to avoid visiting areas of London “populated by Indians, Pakistanis and black people” – and “We advise tourists not to go out alone at night, and females always to be accompanied by another person when travelling.”
The chapter on Manchester should be a hoot.
Spotter: The Guardian:
Donald Trump was the wall between Mexico and the USA to be made of glass, or Sellotape or whatever it is they spray of ageing A-listers faces to keep the skin tight. “One of the things with the wall is you need transparency,” he told media aboard Air Force One on his way to Paris for Bastille Day. “You have to be able to see through it. So it could be a steel wall with openings, but you have to have openings because you have to see what’s on the other wide of the wall. And I’ll give you an example. As horrible as it sounds, when they throw large sacks of drugs over, and if you have people on the other side of the wall, you don’t see them. hey hit you on the head with 60 pounds of stuff? It’s over. As crazy as that sounds, you need transparency through that wall. But we have some incredible designs.’”
Maybe Trump means a chain-link fence, something the Republican Congress passed in the Secure Fence Act of 2006. The Act, signed by Barak Obama, Hilary Clinton, Chuck Schumer and George W. Bush, approved 700 miles of fencing between the border of the United States and Mexico. The wall / fence would feature checkpoints, drones and lighting to stop illegal immigration.
Dugs remain optional.
I’m very sad to learn that Kevin Gray had died. He was the brains behind the brilliant Nothing To Do With Arbroath. Kevin was just 56 years old.
We spoke many times. In December he told he that he’d been diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer that “has spread to as yet unidentified other places…
I’ve not been able to get internet access in hospital and was surprisingly told I could go home for a few days just before lunchtime today.
I have to return on Thursday for a lung biopsy before the real horrors are revealed and the nasty stuff really begins.
I’m just about to write a cheery post on my blog.
All the very best, mate,
Hundreds of thousands of people read and enjoyed his work. He never got the reward his great eye for a story and humour deserved.
Donations should be given to Cancer Research UK.
I’ll remember seeing Conor McGregor waiting in the ring for Floyd Mayweather (video below). How could I forget? What a sight. What style and substance. What panache. What a hoot. In the current era of can’t say that, when “inappropriate” is the watchword and Outraged of Twitter commands compliance in speech and deed, McGregor’s swaggering and shadow boxing was a visit from another world, a more exciting time when mistakes were glorious, failures radiant and life was about daring to do with a big toothy grin and gaping, irresistible laugher.
McGregor knows what he is and wants to be. It’s a clarity out of step with snowflakes, safe spaces, blaming everyone else for your own errors, excruciating debates over gender and identity, and so much guff about cultural appropriation, virtue signalling and a navel-gazing search for fluid indefinites.
McGregor commands admiration. “There’s two things I really like to do and that’s whoop ass and look good,” says McGregor.” He said of an opponent: “How could I hate someone who has the same dreams as me?” And most tellingly of all: “There is no opponent … you’re against yourself…Defeat is the secret ingredient to success.”
The golden age of derring-do hasn’t been eradicated. It’s been throbbing in a tough part of Dublin. It’s out there. And it’s glorious. “I know who I am,” says McGregor. And we love it:
Transfer balls – a look at rubbish football reporting: The BBC says Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea, 26, wants to join Real Madrid this summer.
The source of this story is the Daily Express. It’s source is Spain’s Don Balon. The Express says Real Madrid president Florentino Perez is “desperate to land the Spain No 1”. As ever, it’s fun to look at the Spanish report through the prism of Google Translate:
The David de Gea option is still very much alive. The current United goalkeeper is not willing to let the Real Madrid train pass for the umpteenth time and press in the offices of the Santiago Bernabéu through his agent, Jorge Mendes.
With Keylor Navas stuck with his continuity in the white team, the keeper of the Red takes a step forward and maintains a direct line with the Real Madrid controls, as reported by Pipi Estrada in ‘El Chiringuito’: “Jorge Mendes has asked José Ángel Sánchez [Real Madrid CEO] for De Gea and Sánchez has asked him to be patient because the decision has not yet been made. This year there is a lot of happiness because it has won the double, which has not been won for a long time, but next year you have to win again and if you do not win there will be a problem. ”
De Gea is still the right eye of Real Madrid president Florentino Perez, who is waiting for a final PSG move to remove Keylor Navas from Madrid and be able to open the door of Real to Spanish.
This all seems to suggest that De Gea’s agent is agitating for his client’s move. And Perez doesn’t sound “desperate”.
Whatever the source, the report offers no quote from player, club nor agent. We do hear only from one Pipi Estrada, a journalist for Spanish sports TV show El Chiringuito. And that’s a dead end.
With facts in short supply, the Sun picks up the story and thunders:
GET ME OUTTA HERE David De Gea ‘desperate to quit Manchester United for Real Madrid and orders agent to get deal done’
The Sun reports:
Spanish transfer outlet Don Balon claim Madrid will try again this summer, with club president Florentino Perez desperate to land the Spanish international.
De Gea, meanwhile, is said to have told his agent Jorge Mendes to get the deal sorted.
Desperate stuff all round.
The Sun then assures readers:
Agent Jorge Mendes could seal the deal with Real Madrid.
The story gets murkier still when you look back to July 13 – yesterday ! – when the Sun told its readers:
DOUBLE BLOW – Real Madrid give up David De Gea chase while Eden Hazard tells Zinedine Zidane he will not join Champions League winners this summer
The source for that Sun story is – yep – Don Balon:
…according to Don Balon, Real have decided to ditch plans of a bid for De Gea…
Don Balon tells its readers not to panic. Real are far from desperate for De Gea:
Real Madrid, however, has already perfectly located a new candidate to become the starting goalkeeper next season. And at a much more affordable price than De Gea: Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Such are the facts in the twilight world of football reporting.
If you get delve into the steaming heap of pleading, bias, fiscal nous, screeching, virtue-signalling, baby-kissing, dreaming, pining, narcissism, spiritual zeal, butchery and guff, at the root of society, you’ll find the whole point of governance: to support human life. You can consult the history books and thereby, say the knowledge wallahs, learn how not to repeat mistakes of the past. But most of us know what we want and where we need to go to get it. We want a good life. So how did it come to this? How did the parents of terminally-ill baby Charlie Gard end up fighting for their son’s existence in the High Court in London?
Charlie suffers from infantile onset encephalomyopathy mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome (MDDS). He’s ill. Very ill. He cannot see, hear, move, cry or swallow. Everything he does is dictated by invasive machines. Science and electricity keep Charlie Gard alive.
And in technology, Charlie’s parents, Connie Yates and Chris Gard, have hope. They know of an experimental treatment that could prolong their son’s life. Doctors at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GSOH), where Charlie is on life-support, say they have explored many treatment options and none would improve Charlie’s quality of life and he should be allowed to die. Judges at the European Court of Human Rights ruled further treatment would “continue to cause Charlie significant harm”.
But that hope, the thing that makes us human and active lingers and nags. It drives Charlie’s parents on. They’ve raised £1.3m through donations to take their son to the US for an experimental treatment called nucleoside therapy. It’s untested. Not even mice have tried it. And it’s not being offered as a cure. Having seen the report on Charlie’s brain damage, the American doctor stated that he could “understand the opinion that [Charlie] is so severely affected by encephalopathy that any attempt at therapy would be futile. I agree that it is very unlikely that he will improve with that therapy.”
GSOH says Charlie should be allowed to die with dignity. Charlie is 11-months-old. Dignity is for the aged, the lived and the caring. Can an innocent die with anything but dignity? Can a child yet to make his first birthday have an undignified death? The adults are charge. They are keeping him alive and deciding the manner, time and, through language, the narrative of his death.
Medics will offer Charlie the utmost respect through a hard-fought death; but they will not offer him more life. They’ve blended hard-nosed, pragmatic, experienced views with statistics into a thick gunk, added some sweetness to mask the taste and handed it to Charlie’s parents. Give it to the lad. Swallow once and wait for the end. It’ll be ‘peaceful’.
But for everyone involved in this case – the living – it isn’t peaceful. Hurt by a seriously ill child with an inherited disease, the parents are cursed doubly with hope stymied by bureaucracy .“There is no love of life without despair of life,” wrote Albert Camus. Hope doesn’t mean denying the horror of their son’s appalling condition and appealing for the impossible. Hope is about remembering triumph.
So we give them money. We want the Gard family to prevail. And from the medics, one small boy’s life is now down to the lawyers. The case is now about the State’s reason and critical thinking versus emotion. We know hope won’t do it. It’s not enough. But the money might. The intrepid medics could help. Things are not certain. There is a miniscule chance of something incredible. And in that tiny space, we see a need to act. Hope, more muscular than mere optimism, is the trigger for action. Not to act on hope is to be complicit and complacent this side of the grave. Against cruel nature Charlie’s parents have a chance to influence the outcome.
You’d deny them that chance? I wouldn’t. I’d let them seize it. Things might not change for the better, but they can change.
Can we link the ban on smoking in public places to the death of pubs? It’s been ten years since the introduction of the smoking ban in England. Lots of pubs tried to make up for the loss of income from banned smokers by selling food or setting aside outside places for smokers to sit. But the country is not all that warm, and wrapping yourself around a patio heater in November as you eat your chips and guacamole is not all that much fun. You might as well have a drink, a smoke and an oven-ready meal at home.
And then there are the drinking pubs – so so called “wet-led pubs” – which rely on drinkers not eaters, where food is nuts, crisps and something picked in a jar on the counter. These pubs are more likely to be in less wealthy areas, where the working class go for a sit, a chat, a drink and a smoke.
The Guardian looks at the fate of pubs on housing estates, where space for smokers’ gardens is not an option:
English postwar estate bars are often seen as a joke: “Never drink in a flat-roofed pub,” the saying goes. But these pubs – whether they’re 1930s-style redbrick structures with pitched roofs and large beer gardens, or forbidding cubes of wood and brick that squat in the shadow of tower blocks – are now at risk. They’re being closed and converted into shops or apartments, boarded up and left to rot, or completely wiped from the map, leaving a cleared site and an empty car park.
“There’s a huge level of threat: these pubs are dropping like flies,” says Emily Cole of Historic England.
Spotter: The Guardian
Jeremy Corbyn has been “enjoying pizza” with a man who supports “Syrian dictator” Bashar Assad. The Sun has spotted Corbyn eating, nay “scoffing” with “pro-Russian journalist Marcus Papadopoulos”. One Washington newspaper calls Papadopoulos a “Russian agent”.
Most of us have no idea who Papadopoulos is lest what his opinions are. Helpfully, the Sun has searched Google and can tell us that last year Papadopoulos tweeted: “There was no siege of #Sarajevo, there was no genocide at #Srebrenica and there was no massacre at #Aleppo. Discard what Western media says”. This year he opined: “President Assad, the guardian of Christians in #Syria, celebrating Easter. I stand with him 100%…”
So much for the Sarajevo Roses. A Guardian leader article called Srebrenica a “place of horror that ranks alongside Auschwitz”. The one deed the dead can perform on behalf of the living is allowing us to bear witness to their suffering and the consequences of our freedom. Would you deny them that honour?
But no matter. Corbyn can explain. The Labour leader who was simply reaching out when he invited “friends” at jihad-endorsing, Jew-hating Hamas to take tea in Parliament (Hamas’s charter declares: “The prophet, prayer and peace be upon him, said: ‘The time will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! there is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him!”) and has a proclivity for sharing platforms with anti-Semites is yet again an innocent.
The Sun quotes a “Labour spokesman” who says Mr Corbyn had been “joined briefly by Mr Papadopolous [sic], who asked to be photographed with Jeremy. Photographs of Jeremy with members of the public do not mean he endorses their views, as is the case on this occasion too.”
Do the two men know each other? The Times adds that Mr Papadopoulos “is editor of Politics First, a bi-monthly magazine with a circulation of just over 1,000. Mr Corbyn wrote for its last issue.”
So much for the right-wing Press’s view on the pizza date. What say the Mirror and Guardian on the matter? Nothing. Not a word. Is it a sign of information denial? Is news about feeling good and moralising journalists attaching themselves to pet causes, or is it about presenting the facts and trusting your readers?
Things are taking a nasty turn. It’s not politics that supports Corbyn; it’s a personality cult. And it’s dangerous.
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho can be a chippy, snide sort of man. But the man who likes to mask his own shortcomings by goading, belittling and mocking others should be impressed at how the tabloids see meaning in his most mundane observations “Jose Mourinho aims latest dig at Arsene Wenger over Alexandre Lacazette signing,” says the the Daily Express.
JOSE MOURINHO has mocked Arsene Wenger’s decision to sign striker Alexandre Lacazette with Manchester United saying the striker has “no stamina, no physical impact and is not a big-game player”.
What a sad sack he is. But hold on a moment. Mourinho didn’t say anything of the sort. Indeed, he didn’t say anything at all. The Express continues:
But a United source said: “Lacazette was followed because he was top scorer in French football – but a lot of his goals were penalties [10 of his 28 goals last season came from the spot]. In the end he wasn’t considered because he has no stamina, no physical impact and isn’t a big-game player.”
Words by Mourinho: nil.
Words by anonymous “source”: meaningless.
And then the Daily Mail hears more sniping. This time Mourinho “taunts” Chelsea over Romelu Lukaku.
What did he Jose say about his former club to manutd.com?
“Romelu is a natural fit for Manchester United. He is a big personality and a big player. It is only natural that he wants to develop his career at the biggest club. He will be a great addition to the group and I know they will make him very welcome. I am really looking forward to working with him again.”
Words about his former club Chelsea: nil.
Words about Lukaku’s selling club Everton: nil.
Words on how Lukaku is joining Manchester United because he and his agent will earn a shedload of cash: nil.
If it’s like this now, it’s only going to get worse when the actual football starts.
Ann Marie Morris is proof the Tories are “still nasty”, says The National. Ann Marie Morris is proof that the Conservatives are “in chaos”, says the Mirror. Ann Marie Morris is front-page news. She’s the Conservative MP for Newton Abbot. What she said during a meeting at London’s East India club to a group of Tory Eurosceptics is to terrible the paper refers to it as “n*****”, the word censored lest we say it and also become pariahs.
What Ms Morris said was that “the real nigger in the woodpile” about Brexit is if after the two-year negotiation period is up Britain and the EU haven’t agreed on trade contracts. It’s a remarkably stupid and ugly comment. You’ve got to wonder at anyone who uses it outside a class on arcane phrases loaded in racism. But surely one idiotic phrase doesn’t sum up an entire political party and the millions who voted for it.
When Prince Philip told British students in China “If you stay here much longer you’ll all be slitty-eyed”, the Mirror called it a “memorable gaffe“, a bit of misspeaking we should cherish. It was one of his many “classic quotes”, other being about Aboriginal “spear chuckers”. Did we hear them and say that his words summed up every Windsor in the Family Firm, including The Queen, Harry and Diana?
It’s not really about race. It’s about party politics, which is nasty and unsure. It means politicos have to be seen to be active. Theresa May, the actual Prime Minster, suspends Morris from their party. Labour MP Tulip Siddiq tweets: “I’m absolutely appalled by this. I assume PM will take appropriate action?” Andrew Gwynne, Labour’s campaign coordinator, says: “Theresa May once spoke about changing the Tories’ ‘nasty party’ tag. If she’s serious about that, she will admit it’s not enough for the Tories to ‘investigate’ and will apologise and act immediately. If that means withdrawing the whip, that’s what they should do.” Guardian invention Owen Jones wants action against other Tory MPs who were at the meeting and who failed to denounce Morris for her choice of phrase. For people against blood sports, Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour seem to love the thrill of the hunt.
Neither circumspection nor reason is countenanced.
But the good news for Morris is that, like Naz Shah the Labour MP who suggested all Jews should be deported from Israel, you can embark on a “journey” and learn how to become socially acceptable among your enlightened Commons peers once more.
And Corbyn, with his interesting friends, should be sensitive to Morris’s re-education, after all when Naz Shah shouted “RAUS!” at the Jews, Corbyn told us, “We’re not saying she’s anti-Semitic. We’re saying she’s made remarks she doesn’t agree with.” More guff than gaffe.
In the Evening Standard, the London freesheet, news has moved on from a cat stuck up a tree in Neasden and bar openings to matters of national importance. There’s no time for investigations into local councils, social housing and iffy money – not when a former top Tory is talking to another former top Tory and about a current top Tory:
The pressure on Theresa May’s fragile leadership grew last night after she was reportedly described as “dead in the water” by a former Tory Cabinet minister.
Former chief whip Andrew Mitchell is claimed to have said at a private dinner that the Prime Minister “couldn’t go on”, adding she had “lost her authority” and was “weak”.
The serving MP is alleged to have made the comments on June 26, the day Mrs May struck a deal with the DUP to prop up her minority administration in Parliament.
You can read all about that in the newspaper edited by one George Osborne, who Theresa May sacked as Chancellor. Osborne’s the man who had he stuck around might have been in with a shout of being Prime Minister.
Time and time again Jemma Beale told police she’d been sexually assaulted by men. She lied and lied and lied. Beale made false rape or sexual assault claims against 15 men. The truly incredible thing is that the Crown Prosecution Service believed her every time. They were not alone – one innocent man was sent down for seven years. Somali-born Mahad Cassim, 37, spent almost four years in prison for a 2010 “rape”.
In the space of just four years, Jemma Beale told police she had been raped or sexually assaulted by six men and raped by nine, all strangers, in four different encounters. The Crown Prosecution Service thought Jemma remarkably unlucky. Or maybe Jemma drives sane men wild?
Perhaps in the eyes of the fair and circumspect police and CPS all men are rape suspects and all you need is an accuser to nail them?
Police only investigated Beale after one of her former girlfriends said the claims of a 2010 rape were false.
Detective Sergeant Kevin Lynott, who led the investigation into Beale’s false allegations, explains how things work:
“Cases such as this are exceptional and very rare but it does show how seriously we take allegations of rape and sexual assault and that we will carry out a thorough investigation in order to get to the truth.
“Beale is responsible for fabricating a series of extremely serious allegations, which led to several extensive investigations being carried out and teams of detectives and specialist officers spending thousands of hours on the cases and providing support to her.
“Her manipulation of the criminal justice system has caused police to direct significant amounts of resource into investigating her bogus complaints as well as her own offending.
“She has also significantly impacted on the NHS as a result of her complaints and used up many other limited resources that are relied upon by genuine survivors. Not only that, but she then went on to give false testimony at court, which resulted in the wrongful conviction and imprisonment of a completely innocent man.
— The Sun (@TheSun) July 7, 2017
“Beale has been exposed as a serial liar and I can only think that she was motivated partly by financial reward, but mainly the attention and control over her partners and family at the time she made the allegations.
“The impact on those she falsely accused has been devastating, however hopefully the outcome now fully exonerates all the men she falsely accused of such heinous crimes.”
So many innocent men ruined by the lies of one woman. It makes you wonder if the police were operating to an agenda?
When Donald Trump tweeted a meme made by Reddit user HansAssholeSolo, CNN were upset. The meme was a mash-up of footage of Trump wrestling WWE CEO Vince McMahon to the deck in 2007 altered so that McMahon’s face was replaced with CNN’s logo.
Trump and CNN are at loggerheads. He says they broadcast fake news to an anti-him agenda. They say he’s America’s enemy. HansAssholeSolo morphed this sad war of words into an actual fight. Joke. Geddit?
CNN didn’t. It’s issued a threat. No, not to Trump. They’re threatening HansAssholeSolo. If he lampoons CNN ever again, the broadcaster will stop talking truth to power and attack. Judgmental CNN reporter Andrew Kaczynski says CNN “reserves the right to publish his identity” if he commits “ugly behaviour on social media again”. To some this sounds like “blackmail“. Take on the corporation and you will pay. Comply or else. That Kaczynski’s makes his threat beneath the headline “How CNN found the Reddit user behind the Trump wrestling GIF” only adds to the absurdity. Unless the BBC can discover which leg Trump puts first into his trousers, that Pulitzer’s in the bag.
In a lengthy apology, a worried HansAssholeSolo says: “Free speech is a right we all have, but it shouldn’t be used in the manner that it was in the posts that were put on this site. I do not advocate violence against the press and the meme I posted was [not] advocating that in any way, shape, or form.”
It was a joke that thanks to Trump’s priapic tweet finger and monocular news agency CNN has gotten out of hand. And it’s exposed how prissy CNN is; how like Trump, CNN is over-sensitive, vain and self-regarding. It shows us how terrified CNN is of the power of newer, non-telly media. CNN’s viewers are in bed by 10pm and watching from rented rooms because they’ve tired of the hotel’s infomercial; twitter and Reddit users are tuning in anywhere at any time.
It’s as illuminating as it is entertaining. And the row is mildly contradictory: like The Donald’s skin, it’s terrible – and there’s not enough of it.
To Wimbledon, where American tennis player Jack Sock has tossed a towel into the crowd. Was he aiming at the lucky kid in the second row on a school day or the couple dressed like hit men for Del Monte in the front row?
— Mark Schultz (@risendevil) July 4, 2017
Jack Sock says he was aiming at the kid. In which case, why didn’t he stop and hand the lad a towel? And did Sock pay for the towel? Is the man in Lincoln Green an accessory to theft?
If anyone knows the kid that unfortunately had the towel ripped out of his hands…tweet his name at me and I’ll be sure to get him one 🤙🏻
— Jack Sock (@JackSock) July 4, 2017
Not the same is it – the shop-bought one. It’s not got the smell of duffel bag and the sense of occasion of being an actual towel that made it all the way to Wimbledon. Place matters. It’s why Wimbledon can charge a fortune for a seat, a glass of Pimms and a massive autograph ball. Take any of those items away from the All England clubs and they are just cheap patio furniture, a disappointing sticky drink and sports answer a stuffed donkey on a flight home from Benidorm.
The lad wants that towel. But its gone. Where to? We don’t know. But if you see a couple in matching outfits spreading a second-hand Wimbledon towel over a sunlounger at Hurlingham club, give it a sniff. If it smells of Jack Sock (top notes of sweat and tubigrip over base notes of chalk, apple pie and regret) shout, “Stop! Thief!” and make a citizen’s arrest.
Transfer Balls: Were you one of the Manchester United fans feeling “exited” when Chelsea’s Nemanja Matic’s was reportedly left out of the Blues’ new kit launch?
The Daily Mirror delivered the news: “Chelsea hint at Matic exit as Manchester United target is left out of kit launch.” Adding: “Jose Mourinho is keen on the Serbian midfielder, who was nowhere to be seen at the unveiling.”
The Manchester Evening News asked readers: “Have Chelsea hinted Nemanja Matic is joining Manchester United?”
And after thousands and thousands of Chelsea and Manchester United fans had clicked the stories, we watched the kit launch video and – yep- there was Matic in the Londoners’ new blue kit.
The shameless Mirror duly reported: “Manchester United fans get excited over Nemanja Matic deal – but midfielder IS in Chelsea kit launch.”
Those silly Manchester United fans, eh, believing what they read in the Mirror and their local paper.
Transfer balls: Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez has been offered £280,000 a week to continue kissing the badge. He’s in no rush to sign. Chances are high he will leave the Gunners. The Mirror quotes Ivan Zamorano, the former Chile and Real Madrid player, who opines: “What he really wants is to win the Champions’ League. And I don’t think he’ll have that chance at Arsenal.” Well, ‘duh. Arsenal have been in one final ever – they lost. And they’re not even in this season’s competition.
Of course, Sanchez had a better chance to winning the Champions’ League at Barcelona. But they got rid of him and triumphed in his absence. The question must be: is Sanchez a better player because he plays among less stella players? And if Champions’ League victory is his grail, why did Sanchez join Arsenal in the first place?
As for ‘news’, in the race for clicks, the Daily Star take the biscuit with its fake news story: “Alexis Sanchez is staying at Arsenal.” There it is on Google:
Take the bait. Click the link and you are told: “That’s according to Chilean reporter Juan Luis who works for TV station El Filtrador.”
Who? What? It’s a bit of guessing by a journalist on twitter presented as fact in a British newspaper.
And what about Bayern? The story was that Sanchez wanted to play for Bayern Munich and thereby win everything in the monotonous German league. But Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness says he won’t pay huge money for Sanchez: “The salaries being talked about up front of over €20 million [a year] are definitely an amount that isn’t feasible for FC Bayern.” And if Arsenal won’t sell Sanchez to Manchester City, where does the Chilean go to reap his reported demand of in excess of £300,000 a week?
Maybe Sanchez should just sit tight? In the last year of his Arsenal contract, he could claim his current £140,000 week, reasoning that any signing on fee would outweigh his reduced salary. He can talk to other European clubs in January. So long as his form and fitness endure, Sanchez would head to Bayern on a vastly reduced fee allowing the Germans to splurge all their cash on his wages.
It’s going to be a long summer. And Arsenal fans can spend it wondering how after Robin Van Persi and Samir Nasri were allowed to enter the final year of their contracts before joining rival clubs, the Gunners board let their best player get to this point again.
We usually see this kind of moody pout on the cover of Christmas books aimed at middle-aged men, you know the things with Jeremy Clarkson, Gordon Ramsay or some celebrity memoirist on the cover. They always look cheesed off with life. At the Manchester United kit launch players contrived much the same miserable look. We got Juan Mata is full proctologist mode. Paul Pogba looking affronted. Jesse Lingard anxious, adopting the pose of a man living in constant fear of a ball to the knackers. Victor Lindelof opted to be shrink-wrapped and laminated.
Manchester United’s stocking filler is the club’s new shirt, which looks a lot like the old shirt. It’s red. It’s got a blinged Swiss flag on it. And it’s got Wayne Rooney in it.
But it’s different. This one is red with black and white cuffs (supposedly inspired by the flags waved at Old Trafford on matchdays) and has a neat little button-up granddad collar. And that’s it.
So similar are old and new kits that clubs should invite fans to spot five differences to qualify for a discount.