Celebrating first year as Mayor

“Happy Birthday, Boris!” hails this week’s Spectator.  It has been a remarkable first year as Mayor of London including everything from ping pong to knife crime, transport to education and hard work to fun as the Spectator‘s Mary Wakefield found out.

Mary writes: “I met Boris Johnson in his office in City Hall overlooking the Thames and Tower Bridge. Our former editor seemed a more thoughtful and sensible character than the man who used to practise cycling with no hands down Doughty Street at lunchtime, but there were signs of the old Boris tucked around his mayoral office: ping pong bats (the Mayor likes to unwind by trying and failing to beat his personal assistant, Ann Sindall); a book of love poems by the late Woodrow Wyatt; a bust of Pericles in the corner, looking out over this 21st-century Athens. Continue reading Celebrating first year as Mayor

Tax rise a Shakespearean return to childhood

With record levels of debt, this Government returns to raising taxes echoing the: “….Last scene of all, That ends this strange eventful history, Is second childishness and mere oblivion; Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.” (Shakespeare, “As You Like It”, Act II, Scene VII)

When you have to watch someone die, one of the most distressing things is the period that Shakespeare called a second childishness. As a patient enters the final stages, he may suddenly start speaking of mummy, babbling nursery rhymes or talking a foreign language that he forgot at the age of four. The patient may be suddenly rude, irrationally angry or jealous. It is as though all the decades of acquired behaviour and education are melting away, to reveal the juvenile instincts beneath. Continue reading Tax rise a Shakespearean return to childhood

The Budget April 2009

Taxandspendy – with apologies to Lewis Carroll


Twas Budget, and the slimy toad,
Did send poor Darling out again,
From whimsy were the numbers grow’d,
That came from Number Ten.

“And use the Taxandspend, old son,
The debts that bite, the laws that catch,
Entreat the hidden tax, don’t shun,
The slightest attempt to snatch!”

He took his big red box in hand,
Longtime to Parliament he talked,
And waffled he, for in honesty,
He’d given it no thought.

Continue reading The Budget April 2009

Labour’s pseudo-egalitarian approach to education

 The affluent bourgeoisie use either fee-paying schools or private tutors to entrench their advantages, while kicking away the ladder of opportunity for bright kids from working-class backgrounds.

The lesson from the story of Georgia Gould is that if you restrict the opportunities of the many, the few will simply lengthen their lead.

Come on comrades, stop beating up on Georgia Gould – you created her

Since no one else is likely to do so, it falls to this column to spring to the defence of Georgia Gould. Telegraph readers may not be familiar with Georgia. One day she will probably pupate into some hectoring Labour health or environment spokesperson, telling us all when to turn the lights off or how many units of alcohol we may consume. But at the moment she is still trying to win the Labour nomination for the London seat of Erith and Thamesmead, and the Labour Party is having one of its amusing fits of hysterics about the matter. Georgia may be brilliant; she may be blonde; she may be captivating. But she is only 22, and the Labour rank and file are furiously protesting.

Continue reading Labour’s pseudo-egalitarian approach to education

Damian McBride and Labour smears

It is a glorious morning. The daffodils are still pretty perky. The tulips are surging away. The birds are a-wooing and a-cooing all over the place, and it seems absolutely criminal on a morning like this – an April morning, when there is frankly nowhere in the universe more lovely than England – that I should be sitting inside and slaving over a computer and brooding about Damian McBride. Continue reading Damian McBride and Labour smears

The Importance of the Bee Population

Honey bee in cherry tree
Honey bee in cherry tree

I bound naked from the bed, brandishing the biography of Marcus Aurelius

You can’t just squash a creature that was once beloved of Apollo and which mankind has associated, since the beginning, with poetry and rhetoric and the gift of speech itself … you cannot kill a bee

The economic recovery is like the bee population

Long before the alarm clock goes, the buzzing begins, and I am afraid my irritation sometimes gets the better of me. As soon as the sunlight hits the window panes, the dunderheaded insects conceive their lust to be outdoors, sticking their noses into the sexual organs of the flowers, and bonk bonk bonk they start to bash their furry bonces against the glass and buzz buzz buzz they go in frustration until I can take it no more. Continue reading The Importance of the Bee Population