Wednesday 31 August 2022

England's foes

Who are England's worst enemies, the Americans or the French? 

The French need Brexit to fail but the Americans are probably worse, since they invented Woke and PC and drag us into unnecessary and catastrophic wars.

The Sami and other indigenous peoples


I think that the Irish, Scots and Welsh have been around as long as the Lapps, whom the BBC calls the Sami. 

So have the Albanians, perhaps the oldest race in Europe if they are Illyrians, and the Basques, whom some think are Neanderthals, according to John Hooper's book The Spanish

That little known fact made people laugh at a dinner party in the 1985 but got me accused of 19th century racism on Facebook 10 years ago. 

In any case all indigenous peoples in Europe are in danger of becoming minorities in their own countries.

Mikhail Gorbachev has died

The figures who bestrode the world stage in my youth were President Reagan, Mrs. Thatcher, Pope John Paul II and above all Mikhail Gorbachev, who died yesterday.

Sir Roger Scruton called Graham Greene the first and most embarrassing of the Gorbymaniacs and I was an early one too.

Charles Moore and the Spectator warned us (accurately) that Gorbachev’s intention was to revitalise Leninism, but I was sure that was impossible.

He lost power not because economic freedom and autocracy are incompatible (obviously they are not) but because Stalin’s 1935 Soviet Constitution gave the fifteen so called union republics the right to secede.

Had the US Constitution had a similar provision the civil war could have been avoided and 700,000 lives not lost.

In his last years two things anguished Gorbachev: Putin’s undemocratic rule and US foreign policy.

In 2014 he criticised the USA for starting a new cold war. In his last interview with TASS on 20 January 2021, Gorbachev called on Joe Biden to begin talks with the Kremlin in order to make the two countries' "intentions and actions clearer".

On 24 December 2021, Gorbachev said that the United States "grew arrogant and self-confident" after the collapse of the Soviet Union, resulting in "a new empire. Hence the idea of NATO expansion."

It's the last day of summer, ahead of us a terrible winter thanks to the proxy war with Russia and climate alarmism.

Rainy morning


Tuesday 30 August 2022

If only Donald Rumsfeld had taken Nixon's wise advice

"The only things that matter in the world are Japan and China, Russia and Europe," Nixon explained. "Latin America doesn't matter. Long as we've been in it, people don't give one damn about Latin America, Don." Stay away from Africa, too, Nixon warned. As for the Middle East, getting involved there carried too many potential hazards for a politician. "People think it's for the purpose of catering to the Jewish vote," Nixon told Rumsfeld. "And anyway, there's nothing you can do about the Middle East."

James Mann, Rise of the Vulcans: The History of Bush's War Cabinet (2003)

If only Rumsfeld had followed this good advice, given him while President Nixon was in the White House. 

Let's all ignore the Middle East now. In fact England shouldn't get involved anywhere really except to trade with the world.

And the European Union?

World history is the history of states; the history of states is the history of wars.

World history is the history of states; the history of states is the history of wars.

Oswald Spengler

'The Right affirms inherited hierarchy, favors the particularistic while being suspicious of what claims to be the universal, aims at preserving social traditions where possible, and opposes the Left by every means at its disposal. The Left takes the opposite positions on the first three points out of a sense of fairness, a passionate commitment to the advancement of equality, and a conception of human beings that stresses sameness or interchangeability. Whereas the Right believes in what Aristotle defined as the order of the household—in which elaborately defined distinctions are deemed “natural”—the Left recoils from nonegalitarian arrangements. Its advocates are delighted to have state managers and judges abolish the vestiges of inherited hierarchy.

'The Left is committed to removing, as far as humanly possible, social, racial, and gender inequalities. Furthermore, the more control it accumulates, the easier it is for the Left to reconstruct or recode those who resist its planning. German social theorist Arnold Gehlen was struck by how younger Germans in the 1960s exhibited what he called “hypermorality.” Contrary to the opinion that such youth, who frequently turned into militant antifascists, suffered from a lack of values, Gehlen noticed their hysterical moral zeal spilling over into their entire lives.'

Paul Gottfried in 'Revisions and Dissents: Essays' (2017)

'Biological science may be called on, but only for the proper ideological ends, that is, for those egalitarian purposes that are to be fostered in today’s predominantly leftist political and academic culture—in the same way that the theory of evolution is fine for the Left as long as it can be directed against religionists.

'But the Darwinian hypothesis about change in the natural world becomes problematic if someone dares to turn to a forbidden subject, say, the rootedness of gender differences that have been necessary for the perpetuation of human as well as animal life.'


'No one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution, one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.'

George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty Four

"The lockdown was an experiment in authoritarian government unmatched in our history even in wartime....Throughout history, fear has been the chief instrument of authoritarian rule. During the lockdown it was what enabled the government to silence dissent and inhibit discussion."

It is happening even earlier than expected. People who supported the lockdown have now backdated the moment that they changed their minds, and are retrospectively furious about policies they demanded at the time.

The US states in many ways have more rights than EU member states or states that adhere to the ECHR

I learnt from The Times today that 19 states in the USA allow corporal punishment in schools. Whatever one thinks about corporal punishment, how lucky Americans are to make their own laws without the European Convention on Human Rights or any international body to stop them deciding their laws.

The same is true of many things. Employment law for example.

One battle was won

“The thing that’s really changed is that students used to take care not to upset the university authorities. Now it’s the other way round.”
Marie Daouda the French-Moroccan academic who led the fight to stop Oxford’s Oriel College pulling down its 115-year-old statue of Cecil Rhodes speaking to William Langley, two years ago.

The plans were shelved partly thanks to her. (Naturally, Oriel intended keeping Cecil Rhodes’s vast endowment).

Last summer she wrote in the Daily Telegraph that she was "perplexed" by the condemnation by Oxford's Department of Politics and International Relations of the decision. 
"As an African female tutor at Oriel, I would be glad to see less emotivity in the way some members of the university deal with Rhodes and with the whole race craze in general."

From the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy's Guide to Good Practice in 2018


A priest and lector sing the divine liturgy in the Răzvan Church on a summer morning, as they have done for four centuries.

The Palace of Justice and the Dâmbovița two years ago today


Monday 29 August 2022

Edmund Burke loved freedom and never defended slavery

Edmund Burke is on a list of men who “supported slavery, had financial or family interests in the transatlantic slave trade and slavery”. 

This list is part of a review by the Speaker’s Advisory Committee on Works of Art, chaired by Dean Russell, a supposedly Conservative MP, intended to make Parliament’s art collection “more representative of diversity” . He has a BSc in Physics and Business Studies and an MPhil in Physics and Material Science from De Montfort University.

The list of slavery-related works of art now includes a life-size statue of Burke which stands in St Stephen’s Hall and a portrait in the Member’s dining room.

The evidence for Burke’s connections to the transatlantic trade is a 2013 report by Historic England on the links between slavery and British country houses, which mentions that Burke’s younger brother Richard was a “successful merchant and Caribbean land speculator“, but Edmund Burke himself had no dealings with the Caribbean.

How strange that the death of a criminal in the USA at the hands of a policeman led to this.

Tom Lehrer: 'When Kissinger won the Nobel peace prize, satire died'

Former German chancellor Angela Merkel has been awarded the Unesco Peace Prize 2022 for “her efforts to welcome refugees” (over a million young men) into Germany in the summer of 2015.

The Economist: 'Why the Russian economy keeps beating expectations'

I didn't believe the Yale University report that said that the Russian economy was reeling because of sanctions. My perhaps unfair reason was that it came from Yale. So little credibility do Ivy League universities have, in my eyes. 

The Economist has now published an article contradicting the report.
But the Economist’s analysis of data from a wide variety of sources suggests that Russia’s economy is doing better than even the most upbeat forecasts predicted, as sales of hydrocarbons have fuelled a record current-account surplus. Take, for example, a “current-activity indicator” published by Goldman Sachs, a bank, a real-time measure of economic growth (see chart 1). This declined dramatically in March and April, if not on a scale comparable with the global financial crisis of 2007-09 or even the invasion of Ukraine in 2014. In subsequent months it has recovered.

Sunday 28 August 2022

Over 1,100 scientists, including a Nobel prize winner, have signed a declaration stating that “there is no climate emergency"

Over 1,100 scientists, including one Nobel prize winning Norwegian-American physicist Ivar Giaever, signed a declaration stating that “there is no climate emergency” in late June.

I quote from it.

There is no climate emergency 

Climate science should be less political, while climate policies should be more scientific. Scientists should openly address uncertainties and exaggerations in their predictions of global warming, while politicians should dispassionately count the real costs as well as the imagined benefits of their policy measures

Natural as well as anthropogenic factors cause warming 

The geological archive reveals that Earth’s climate has varied as long as the planet has existed, with natural cold and warm phases. The Little Ice Age ended as recently as 1850. Therefore, it is no surprise that we now are experiencing a period of warming.

Warming is far slower than predicted 

The world has warmed significantly less than predicted by IPCC on the basis of modeled anthropogenic forcing. The gap between the real world and the modeled world tells us that we are far from understanding climate change. 

Give peace a chance

I support Ukraine entirely in her struggle but I hope (but do not expect) that peace is made as quickly as possible, before Ukraine is destroyed. Ukraine will benefit from peace much more than from retaking Kherson. It's true that Russia will use a peace to rearm and refresh its troops, but so will Ukraine and to a much greater extent as the Americans and British are supplying them with arms. Sanctions are proving horribly damaging to Europe (not so much so to Russia, really) and economic catastrophe will have unforeseeable consequences.

Why is no-one marching for peace in Romania or England or America or in any other countries, like they did at the time of the invasion of Iraq or countless other times?

Cozmin Gusa said this morning talking to Adriana Bahmuteanu that a quick peace was essential. Are other Romanian politicians saying this?

Peter Hitchens agrees with me in his article today in The Mail on Sunday.

Saturday 27 August 2022

Douglas Murray today

"From the moment Joe Biden was sworn into office two questions hovered over American politics. The first: does he want to run again, and if so how can the Democrats stop him? The second: does Donald Trump want to run again, and if so how can the Republicans stop him."

Actually, that's four questions.


I just looked up the two pronunciations in English (British, Canadian, American, whatever) of the word Amen. I learnt it is because something that happened in 15th century England called the Great Vowel Shift. 

In Middle English (ME) "a" is pronounced as the "a" in "father." Early modern English (EME) pronounces the long "a" as in "gate."

ME pronounces the long "e" as the long "a" in "gate." EME pronounces the long "e" as the "e" in "tweet."

ME pronounces the long "i" as the "e" in "tweet." EME pronounces the long "i" as the "i" in "light."

ME pronounces the long "o" as the "o" in "tool." EME pronounces the long "o" as the "o" in "goal."

I try to remember to pronounce the word with a long a, because this is how it was pronounced in England in the years before the Reformation and for centuries after by Catholics, until Italian priests in the 19th century introduced the Italian pronunciation of Latin into the Mass. 

But it really doesn't matter. 

As Arthur John Balfour said, nothing matters very much and most things don't matter at all.

Patrick Benson tells me that 

"Many traditional Catholics following the old recusant pronunciation will say Amen (AY-men) and if the prayer is in Latin will use the Latin pronunciation AH-men. [Cardinal Heenan] the Archbishop of Westminster in the 1960s, encouraged Catholics to say Ah-men as it was the standard protestant English way and so they would be ecumenical sweeties and NICE! The traditionalists reacted by ensuring that they always said Ay-men. But then what about the evangelical, often, southern states Americans who say Ay-men ----was this the standard 17th cent. English pronunciation taken by them in The Mayflower?"

Ukraine and the neo-cons

This is very interesting and,  if true, is very important. It's from an article written by Professor Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University, an economist and well-known expert on sustainable development and the fight against poverty.

The war in Ukraine is the culmination of a 30-year project of the American neoconservative movement. The Biden Administration is packed with the same neocons who championed the US wars of choice in Serbia (1999), Afghanistan (2001), Iraq (2003), Syria (2011), Libya (2011), and who did so much to provoke Russia’s invasion of Ukraine....
This approach was spelled out first by Paul Wolfowitz in his draft Defense Policy Guidance (DPG) written for the Department of Defense in 2002. The draft called for extending the US-led security network to the Central and Eastern Europe despite the explicit promise by German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher in 1990 that German unification would not be followed by NATO’s eastward enlargement. Wolfowitz also made the case for American wars of choice, defending America’s right to act independently, even alone, in response to crises of concern to the US. According to General Wesley Clark, Wolfowitz already made clear to Clark in May 1991 that the US would lead regime-change operations in Iraq, Syria, and other former Soviet allies.
The neocons championed NATO enlargement to Ukraine even before that became official US policy under George W. Bush, Jr. in 2008. They viewed Ukraine’s NATO membership as key to US regional and global dominance. Robert Kagan spelled out the neocon case for NATO enlargement in April 2006:
'[T]he Russians and Chinese see nothing natural in [the “color revolutions” of the former Soviet Union], only Western-backed coups designed to advance Western influence in strategically vital parts of the world. Are they so wrong? Might not the successful liberalization of Ukraine, urged and supported by the Western democracies, be but the prelude to the incorporation of that nation into NATO and the European Union—in short, the expansion of Western liberal hegemony?'
Kagan acknowledged the dire implication of NATO enlargement. He quotes one expert as saying, “the Kremlin is getting ready for the ‘battle for Ukraine’ in all seriousness.” The neocons sought this battle. After the fall of the Soviet Union, both the US and Russia should have sought a neutral Ukraine, as a prudent buffer and safety valve. Instead, the neocons wanted US “hegemony” while the Russians took up the battle partly in defense and partly out of their own imperial pretentions as well. Shades of the Crimean War (1853-6), when Britain and France sought to weaken Russia in the Black Sea following Russian pressures on the Ottoman empire.

From Anatole Lieven's review of Philip Short's new biography of Putin

'Short’s ultimate conclusion is a profoundly pessimistic one: that largely irrespective of individual leadership on either side, American determination to pursue unilateral global leadership (and European acquiescence in this) was bound to bring America and Russia into confrontation, given Russia’s determination to remain one pole of a multipolar world. “America, the global power, believes that its role is to lead. Russia refuses to be led.”'

The review is here. Jack Matlock, the penultimate US Ambassador to the USSR, posted it on Facebook with the one word 'Important!"

Friday 26 August 2022

Romanian Health Minister Alexandru Rafila yesterday

"We have more than 8 million vaccine doses in warehouses for which there is no longer any interest. And I'm not just referring to the interest of the population, I'm referring to anyone's interest, either to buy them or to receive them for free."

Yesterday early evening


                                                    Radu Voda

                                                    St. Spiridon


Thursday 25 August 2022


"Time wasting is symptomatic of a lack of self-belief." Elisha Greenbaum

“I am not sure that I exist, actually. I am all the writers that I have read, all the people that I have met, all the women that I have loved; all the cities I have visited.” Jorge Luis Borges

"Then let us love one another and laugh. Time passes, and we shall soon laugh no longer—and meanwhile common living is a burden, and earnest men are in siege upon us all around. Let us suffer absurdities, for this is only to suffer one another." Hilaire Belloc

Wednesday 24 August 2022

Boris, the Hitchens brothers and Shirley Williams on Rushdie's knighthood

The BBC's Question Time, 22 June 2007. Christopher Hitchens (looking very good at 56) and his conservative brother Peter defend Sir Salman Rushdie's knighthood, as does the Labour Party minister, Boris Johnson opposes it simply because his books are unreadable and Shirley Williams says it's 'not wise and not very clever'. Christopher Hitchens says 'that's a contemptible statement'.

Christopher Hitchens wasn't bad for a Trotskyite, right about free speech but wrong about most things. A very good writer and great speaker. I heard him at the Cambridge Union when I was 19.

Putin biographer Philip Short, yesterday in the Guardian, explains why Putin invaded Ukraine - please take note, people

'Why, then, did Putin stake so much on a high-risk enterprise that will at best bring him a tenuous grip on a ruined land?

'At first it was said that he was unhinged – “a lunatic”, in the words of the defence secretary, Ben Wallace. Putin was pictured lecturing his defence chiefs, cowering at the other end of a 6-metre long table. But not long afterwards, the same officials were shown sitting at his side. The long table turned out to be theatrics – Putin’s version of Nixon’s “madman” theory, to make him appear so irrational that anything was possible, even nuclear war.

'Then western officials argued that Putin was terrified at the prospect of a democratic Ukraine on Russia’s border, which would threaten the basis of his power by showing Russians that they too could live differently. On the face of it, that seemed plausible. Putin hated the “colour revolutions” that, from 2003 onwards, brought regime change to former Soviet bloc states. But Ukraine’s attractions as a model are limited. It is deeply corrupt, the rule of law is nonexistent and its billionaire oligarchs wield disproportionate power. Should that change, the Russian intelligentsia may take note but the majority of Russians – those fed on state propaganda who make up Putin’s political base – would not give two hoots.

'The invasion has also been portrayed as a straightforward imperialist land grab. A passing reference to Peter the Great earlier in the summer was taken as confirmation that Putin wanted to restore the Russian empire or, failing that, the USSR. Otherwise sensible people, mainly in eastern Europe but not only, held that Ukraine was just a first step. “I wouldn’t be surprised,” a former Swedish minister told me last week, “if, in a few years, Estonia and Latvia are next in line.”

'Given that Putin once called the collapse of the Soviet Union “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century”, that may seem to make sense. But he also said: “Anyone who does not regret [its] destruction has no heart; anyone who wants to see it recreated has no brain.” Leaving aside the fact that the Russian military is already hard-pressed to achieve even modest successes in Ukraine, an attack on the Baltic states or Poland would bring them into direct conflict with Nato, which is the last thing that Moscow (or the west) wants.

'In fact, Putin’s invasion is being driven by other considerations.

'He has been fixated on Ukraine since long before he came to power. As early as 1994, when he was the deputy mayor of St Petersburg, he expressed outrage that Crimea had been joined to Ukraine. “Russia won Crimea from the Turks!” he told a French diplomat that year, referring to Russia’s defeat of the Ottoman empire in the 18th century.

'But it was the possibility, raised at a Nato summit in 2008, that Ukraine should become a fully-fledged member of the western alliance that turned his attitude toxic.

'Bill Burns, now the head of the CIA, who was then the US ambassador to Moscow, wrote at the time in a secret cable to the White House: “Ukrainian entry into Nato is the brightest of all red lines for the Russian elite (not just Putin). In my more than two-and-a-half years of conversations with key Russian players, from knuckle-draggers in the dark recesses of the Kremlin to Putin’s sharpest liberal critics, I have yet to find anyone who views Ukraine in Nato as anything other than a direct challenge to Russia’s interests … Today’s Russia will respond.”'

Belarus 2020

I wrote this today two years ago.

Lots of high minded British people want democracy in Belarus but spent two years trying to prevent the Brexit referendum result being implemented. They like democracy but not the demos, not hoi polloi. A lot of Americans want democracy in Belarus but hate it that ordinary people defied the bipartisan political establishment and brought Donald Trump to power. They then draw parallels between Trump and Lukashenko. Many of these people are very clever, very silly academics.

Talking of which, Timothy Garton Ash said,

'One worker at the Minsk tractor factory where Lukashenko was heckled, gave this impressively downbeat assessment: “The oligarch who runs the factory next won’t be any worse than the state is now.”'

The Christmas before last was the most fun I ever had, in Bitez near Bodrum with a great bunch of people who had floated there and stayed because of the pandemic. One of them was a Venezuelan with a Slavic name who lived in Minsk. He said he couldn't understand what the protests are about. 'Everything is so well run in Belarus.'

Tuesday 23 August 2022

Philip Short thinks Putin may well win

"I’m not convinced that the risk [Putin]’s taken is going to prove his undoing. I put that very cautiously. He may get perhaps even the most important parts of what he wants from the war in Ukraine, it’s not over yet, it’s going to be very nasty and it’s going to go on.”

So says Philip Short, former BBC man and graduate of Queens' College, Cambridge, who has just brought out a biography of Vladimir Putin, in a recent interview.

History is the only discipline at which you get better in old age. Mr. Short is in his 70s and writes with wisdom.

He wrote an article on the Guardian from which I quote this.

"Moscow does not have to achieve a great deal for Putin to be able to claim victory. It would be enough for Russia to control all of the Donbas and the land bridge to Crimea. He would certainly like more. If Russian troops take Odesa and the contiguous Black Sea coast, it would reduce Ukraine to vassalage. But even more modest gains would show the limits of US power. It is possible that Ukraine, with solid western backing, will be able to prevent that. But it is far from certain."

The decline and rise of the West

I do not have a great rapport with economics, but I am listening to a very interesting interview of Dr Steve Davies, an historian at the Institute of Economic Affairs. 

He is a monetarist who thinks things will be hard for the west for the next decade or longer, but ultimately will be peachy. 

Inflation isn't anything to do with the price of oil. (He didn't mention that Switzerland and Japan have 2 percent inflation.)

He blames the current crisis on European and American folly. I suppose he means the war. He thinks European countries have themselves to blame for not standing up to the USA at the Bucharest conference in 2008. He means George W. Bush's announcement that Ukraine and Georgia would join Nato.

How disastrous the Americans are as the world's policeman. 

Sanctions are hurting the West more than Russia but they are hitting Russians. Nevertheless Russians have come behind the invasion and see the conflict as existential. Most countries are not imposing sanctions and financial Sanctions have much less effect than America expected. As Russia depends on exporting commodities it is less vulnerable to sanctions than more sophisticated economies.

Nuclear energy is important but not the silver bullet for the West. We shall continue to use a lot of oil and gas, but Dr Davies thinks we might use much less energy in the future, as  happened in the mid-1970s in the West.

Monday 22 August 2022

Was there a more wonderful opening to a book review?


How people misunderstand the Ukrainian war

I got round at last to hearing this, a talk by Sky News Australia host Cory Bernardi, criticising Zelensky and the Americans for their role in Ukraine before the invasion, which I left unwatched before I went on holiday. 

I don't like watching or listening rather than reading and clicking but it's worth ten minutes, it's interesting and mostly fairly true, though he gets the details of the Minsk accords wrong. They offered Ukrainian Russians home rule, not independence.

That does NOT mean I think Russia's invasion of the Ukraine is in any way justified but I do think Russia was provoked by the US State Department and Zelensky.

Mark Galeotti on a recent podcast said he sees that Putin believes he is on the defensive against America 'however ridiculous that may seem', although he is very anxious repeatedly to assure listeners that he is not 'advocating this'. 

In fact, Putin is right but Mark Galeotti cannot see this. He sees that from around 2020, but he can't be too exact, Putin's policy to Ukraine changed. 2019 was when Trump started arming Ukraine heavily to create jobs but the election of the fiercely anti-Russian Joe Biden was probably the big trigger. 

Depressingly he thinks a negotiated peace was possible in the spring but no longer is. Everything points to a long war in which Ukraine is ruined and a pointless cold war. The first cold war served little purpose, because Communist Russia was not going to attack Western Europe but at least that was its raison d'etre. A second  cold war would not have a raison d'etre, except in the minds of paranoid people who think Putin wants, after somehow defeating Ukraine, to march somewhere else.

How did the war happen? Because of American and EU folly and of still greater folly on the part of Putin. Lawrence Freedman said, ‘Autocracies tend to make catastrophic decisions. That’s the case with Putin’. Yes indeed but America has made some catastrophic decisions too. Think of the second Iraq war, Libya and add others to taste. Syria is not the Americans' fault but they would have made very bad much worse had Hillary won. 

She said 8 days before her defeat at the polls that regime change in Syria was her number 1 priority. 

Thank God we were spared that. Had she won I suspect the Ukraine war would have started years ago, partly in response to her actions in Syria.

All are invited to the Transylvanian Book Festival next month

All are invited to the Transylvanian Book Festival next month. I am so looking forward to it and warmly recommend it. September 14-18. Great craich last time, in 2018! Very nice people. Rather Chiantishire. Transylvania is becoming slightly Tatler, which is fine by me, and lots of interesting people come from England and from Hungary.

How wonderful to be back in Bucharest

How wonderful to be back in Bucharest. I felt that every time I returned from holiday. I like this town in summer more than any other place I've been on the globe, possibly excepting Havana.

Great one-upmanship. 'Possibly excepting Havana'. I didn't intend it like that. I was just being pedantic.

Girl in the park.

Antim monastery.

Thursday 18 August 2022

Party PM!

The attractive female Finnish Prime Minister has been filmed dancing at a party and this makes headlines.

Move along. Nothing to see. Though odd to have a young and hip female PM.

How very different from the home life of Harold Macmillan. Though he and Harold Wilson did drank a bottle of whisky a night they were not hip at all. Eden was drugged up to the eyeballs, -'half mad baronet, half beautiful woman' but not hip. 

Do the young people still say 'hip'?

As Mr Macmillan said at the time of the Profumo scandal, I move so little among young people. Actually that's not true. Well actually, yes it is.

Ain't that the sorry truth?

'Writers are the engineers of the soul.' Stalin

Writers include academic writers, of course.

Wednesday 17 August 2022



The Moldovan (ethnic Romanian) receptionist in my hotel in London says Putin is completely to blame for the war in Ukraine. Her Ukrainian (ethnic Ukrainian) colleague thinks America is partly to blame for the war and wants peace as quickly as possible, not a war to oust Putin.  Both young women think people behind the scenes benefit from and will probably prolong the war. Hotel receptionists, waiters, barbers and taxi drivers know much more about human nature and life than academics.

I am eating a full English in St James's Square

 'You can eat better in England than in any other country in the world, so long as you eat breakfast three times a day' (Somerset Maugham).


Margaret Thatcher's three biggest legacies are devolution, Brexit and Tony Blair. Tony Blair's legacy is the same plus: more immigrants into England each year than in the period 1070-1950, England ceasing to be a free country, giving into the IRA,  unjust and pointless wars for values that led to the loss of countless, innocent lives and too many other things to enumerate. Boris’s legacy is Brexit and the AstraZeneca/Oxford University vaccine.

Tuesday 16 August 2022

Do not believe the media

The newspapers are full of propaganda and untruths on every subject. The Taliban are not the reason Afghans are selling their children. Sanctions and the Americans stealing £7 billion from the Afghan reserves are. Sanctions are very cruel to the innocent and almost never do any good.

Saturday 13 August 2022

Moon over Budapest

I saw this huge glowing golden moon resting above the rooftops in Budapest last week. It is here in Edinburgh, where for some reason the Times calls it the Sturgeon supermoon.


Friday 12 August 2022

Salman Rushdie has been stabbed in the neck but is still alive

Salman Rushdie has been stabbed in the neck and badly hurt at a talk which had been advertised and was open to the public in New York. Barbara Amiel said 33 years ago that she couldn't forgive the Ayatollah for forcing her to defend Rushdie, but we all do have to be on his side.

Saturday 6 August 2022

Rishi Sunak has blown his chances and perhaps that's a good thing - except Liz Truss looks pretty useless

Rishi Sunak is a humbug and, worse, he badly lacks political skills, as this damning article by Patrick O’Flynn, a UKIP MEP who became SDP, points out. Not only was he filmed pulling a pint even though he does not drink, he was filmed putting petrol into a car that was not his but much cheaper than his. As Sherlock Holmes said of the villain in The Adventure of the Three Garridebs, 'Touch him where you would he was false'.

On the other hand, Liz Truss is very far from clever and looks like another Theresa May, as Edwina Curry said. Neither wants to take the UK out of the ECHR or the 1967 Protocol to the Geneva Convention on Refugees which obliges the UK to accept refugees from outside Europe. Neither seems to know what a man or a woman is or to oppose Carbon Zero. 

I suppose, on the evidence of Rushi's behaviour this year, she is slightly less bad than he is. She is a phoney too, of course, but slightly better at hiding it. She is also a useless debater and has no charisma, but if debating skills were enough Penny Mordaunt would have been best and she was the least conservative and least able of the candidates.

Both candidates for British Prime Minister are phonies and humbugs


Rishi Sunak still seems the least bad of the two to me but he's a phony. He is a lifelong teetotaller but had himself filmed drawing a pint in a pub. That's as bad as Liz driving a tank, in imitation of Mrs T. Then there is this.

On the other hand he has a good brain. Roy Jenkins played a game with his civil servants guessing how far his cabinet colleagues would have reached in the civil service. Had Ernest Bevin, Woy said, not been Foreign Secretary the only other job in the FO he could have held would have been liftman.

Rishi would have probably been a Permanent Secretary with good luck and Liz Truss would not, not even for diversity reasons, but the qualities of a good civil servant are not the ones a Prime Minister needs.

Friday 5 August 2022

Men and women

'No woman minds the first look. It's the second that offends.' Lady Diana Cooper

2 foreign women told me they hated England because they felt invisible there. 2 Romanian women complained to me that Italian men call out compliments in the street to all women, including ugly ones. Both objected not to the compliments but to their being paid to their ill favoured sisters.