My favourite television series when I was growing up in the 1970s was Survivors, set in the near-future, in an England devastated by a deadly plague that had been released, inadvertently, from a germ-warfare laboratory. In my usual perverse way I liked the idea of a society reeling from such a disaster, and took a particular joy in imagining the freedoms I might enjoy in a world so turned upside down.
The fact that Saturday’s Facebook-advertised party on the Circle line to mark the Mayor’s new ban on drinking on London’s public transport got out of hand was achingly predictable; but that it should’ve been organised by a City go-getter, miffed that his pal lost her job when the previous incumbent, Ken Livingstone, lost his, is almost too good to be true. Yet there was Alexandre Graham, the 26-year-old RBS banker, popping a bottle of bubbly in a Tube carriage, while all around him tipsy high spirits condensed into pissed bad vibes.
Back in 1985 I was an inpatient at a drug rehab in the West Country and had genital warts that required regular and painful treatments.
Each week I went to the STD clinic at the nearby hospital, where a middle-aged consultant applied an acidic preparation to the glans of my penis. One day, while he was actually holding the afflicted portion, he remarked — quite casually — that the best way to rid the country of HIV/Aids would be to “castrate all you junkies — and the queers, too”.
This week, Will writes about how he overcame his motoring addiction
Read Will’s Evening Standard column of 18.03.08 here
The Prime Minister has uttered two cheers for 24-hour drinking. Yes, there will be a crackdown on premises flogging booze to underage drinkers, and yes, there will be a campaign to persuade us not to damage our health and looks, but overall the Government feels the more liberal drinking regime is by no means a disaster.
Not so, claims the Local Government Association. Its head, Sir Simon Milton of Westminster Council, believes the liberalisation has been a disaster, with town centres becoming no-go areas, full of berserker teens, their chests daubed with lager: violent crime has increased by 25 per cent between 3am and 6am in the morning. The statistic the Government prefers is that there has been a three per cent reduction in crime since the citizenry were able to spread out their imbibing.
I’m delighted to be able to sign up to this newspaper’s campaign to make London restaurants offer their clientele tap water as a matter of course. It’s long been difficult for the cynics among us not to imagine that somewhere, deep in the bowels of the establishment, there isn’t a bus boy resolutely refilling fancy bottles from a rusty faucet, especially if those bottles have reusable lids and are blazoned with the restaurant’s own logo.
John Williams, the then press secretary at the Foreign Office, wrote the “first draft” of the so-called “dodgy dossier” on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. Now, after concerted campaigning, the Government has finally released this “first draft” only for David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, to say that it’s nothing of the sort.
Williams’s draft doesn’t have the key stuff about Saddam Hussein being able to target Britain in 45 minutes, or the long-since discredited cobblers about uranium being sourced from West Africa, but it does paint up a picture of an aggressive state with a capability for nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. Is Miliband’s bizarre statement that this was not the basis for the later dossier meant to suggest that more information will somehow come to light showing there was sound intelligence for these claims? It hardly seems likely.
Boris Johnson is the latest visionary to wade into the soggy morass of the Thames estuary and propose that an airport be sited there. The Tory mayoral candidate describes Heathrow as a “planning error” and proposes that it be shut down and a new London airport built to the east of the city.
I well remember my late father, Professor Peter Self, sitting on the Roskill Commission in the 1960s, although mostly because of his vivid description of going on an amphibious vehicle out to visit Foulness Island. The Commission was considering sites for a third London airport, and the Thames Estuary was on their list – only to be abandoned for Stansted because of cost considerations.
Read Will’s piece about the smoking ban from the Evening Standard