‘Not a day goes by without further frontline despatches from the war between our established liberal ideology and the strange new realities that body-forth from the future. Taking today — the one on which I sat down to write this article — as representative, I found in my morning bulletins a report about how the US Constitution’s vaunted separation of powers — personified by Special Counsel Robert Mueller — was leading inexorably to the indictment, and hence removal, of “rogue” President Donald Trump. Then there was an item about the minister for women, whose public musings about the rise in the numbers of young people applying for gender-reassignment therapies were being taken as prima facie evidence that she doubted the authenticity of trans people’s claims to be gender dysphoric.
You can listen to Will’s recent Point of View on Radio 4 here, in which he talks about the disturbing story of what happened to a friend, recently detained in a London psychiatric hospital.
I have a confession to make: I was approached by the people who brought the case in the high court over the government’s right to trigger Article 50 without a parliamentary vote. They asked me if I’d consider writing an independent opinion to be included in the dossier handed to the justices – and I declined. I can’t actually find the email I sent to them but the general tenor of my refusal was: ça suffit!
Headspace, the second edition of Prospect’s new monthly podcast, features Will Self debunking the “romance delusion”.
I wonder if Tom Watson and Paul Hollywood are the same person? I have never seen them in the same room together – neither in the devil’s kitchen of Westminster, nor in the heavenly Great British Bake Off marquee. Now the Parliamentary Labour Party is being forced to shift to the political equivalent of Channel 4, and the Cake Meister is going with. As with the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn, so with Bake Off: the former presenters have departed, leaving behind the weird, judgmental, wrinkly old narcissist claiming the high ground of loyalty to the viewers – I mean members.
A French friend, in town for a couple of days recently, was suitably and stereotypically bemused by our latest bad news about terrible crimes: Justice Lowell Goddard’s resignation as the head of the inquiry into historical child abuse was closely preceded by new results from the Crime Survey for England and Wales, according to which 11 per cent of the women questioned, and 3 per cent of the men, said they had been sexually assaulted during childhood.
At the corner of the rue D’Hauteville and the rue de Paradis in the tenth arrondissement of Paris is a retro-video-games-themed bar, Le Fantôme, which is frequented by some not-so-jeunes gens – the kind of thirtysomethings nostalgic for an era when you had to go to an actual place if you wanted to enter virtual space. They sit placidly behind the plate-glass windows zapping Pac-Men and Space Invaders, while outside another – and rather more lethal – sort of phantom stalks the sunlit streets.