Legoland man has much to teach us

On the great questions of pregnancy and birth, there are many details hidden from me. One thing, however, I know. If you happen to be nine months’ pregnant, and wondering when junior will make an appearance, I know what to do. If you have one of those babies that seems to prefer the womb to the terrors of the world, I have an infallible solution.

You go to Legoland. To be exact, you go to those deceptively simple whirly teacup things, and you subject the human body to the most extraordinary stresses and shears. Your teacup rotates in one direction. The teatray spins the other way. After barely a minute of this I guarantee that – pop – you will have the makings of an expensive event.

It is in memory of this breakthrough in obstetrics that, every year, we go to the Windsor-based theme park, built to celebrate those little plastic cuboids that are so painful to tread on in bare feet.

Rain or shine, we always have a lovely time. The great thing about Legoland is that you are outdoors for the whole day and, at the end, you have that nice, stretched, slightly sunburnt feeling, as if you have played a game of cricket.

Every year we look, with enormous satisfaction, at the Lego Grand Place, Lego San Gimignano, Lego Scottish petrol station and all the million and one other tricks you can do with an irritatingly pointy plastic brick.

Every year, I study my fellow pilgrims to this shrine of fecundity: the mums, the dads, the buggy-borne babies, many of them no doubt induced by the teacup technique.

Such is my professional deformation that I find myself wondering about the politics of these hordes of Lego-persons, and what Legoland has to teach us about their priorities…

Read the full article as published in the Telegraph

Isn’t it time to impeach Blair over Iraq?

Put down The Da Vinci Code. Jack in the Grisham. Let Jilly Cooper turn yellow and wilt by the pool. I have before me a beach read more shocking than the schlockiest bonkbuster (editing pdfs). It is only 80 pages, so you ought to be able to knock it off after even the most vinous siesta. Like all the best holiday reads, the idea is simple. A couple of academics have taken the words of Tony Blair on the subject of Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction. They have culled each top-spun, souped-up, over-egged quotation, and set it side by side with what the Prime Minister was actually being told about those WMD. You are left at the end feeling angry and bewildered that Blair should take us all for such mugs.

It is not so much that he lied (though many of his statements were at odds with reality): it is rather that he used all his lawyerly arts, and all the trust that is naturally reposed in his office, to communicate to the public a vast untruth. He told us that Saddam Hussein was a present and growing threat to British interests, when this was not the case. He told us that his information was based on reports that were “extensive, detailed and authoritative”, when the intelligence services – for all their failings – had inserted crucial saving clauses. The charge against Blair is that he wilfully misrepresented the facts to the Commons and to the country when we voted to go to war.

What makes me angry is that he concentrated on this casus belli – WMD – when some of us argued for ages that it was nonsense. I said in this space almost two years ago (Saddam must go, but don’t lie about the reasons) that there was a good case for getting rid of the Iraqi leader, but that Blair was not making it. Many of us felt that the public deserved to be told the real reasons for the war: that the Americans had decided that the world would be a safer place for regime change in Iraq, and that it might be possible to sow the seeds of democracy there and (incidentally) to end the appalling abuses of the Saddam regime.

Read the full article as published in the Telegraph

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