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Believe, commit, grunt. It's a long walk home from Chequers Believe, commit, grunt. It's a long walk home from Chequers
(7 months later)
MondayMonday
A few weeks ago, Christopher Chope managed to effectively kill off a private member’s bill to make upskirting illegal by registering his objections in the House of Commons. Worried that everyone might think he was a bit pervy, the Tory MP for Christchurch was quick to put the record straight. No one could be more against people taking photos of women’s pants than him – apart from 649 other MPs and the rest of the country – but one had to maintain a sense of priorities. There was a right way and a wrong way of introducing legislation and a private member’s bill was definitely the wrong way. Women would much rather be upskirted than be protected by a legislation that hadn’t had proper scrutiny. So it was a surprise to discover today that Chope’s very own private member’s bill to make provision for fruit and vegetables to be classified by flavour, condition and size is due to get its second reading this week. Presumably, in order to prove to everyone he isn’t a hypocrite, Chope will object to his own legislation to make sure it doesn’t progress.A few weeks ago, Christopher Chope managed to effectively kill off a private member’s bill to make upskirting illegal by registering his objections in the House of Commons. Worried that everyone might think he was a bit pervy, the Tory MP for Christchurch was quick to put the record straight. No one could be more against people taking photos of women’s pants than him – apart from 649 other MPs and the rest of the country – but one had to maintain a sense of priorities. There was a right way and a wrong way of introducing legislation and a private member’s bill was definitely the wrong way. Women would much rather be upskirted than be protected by a legislation that hadn’t had proper scrutiny. So it was a surprise to discover today that Chope’s very own private member’s bill to make provision for fruit and vegetables to be classified by flavour, condition and size is due to get its second reading this week. Presumably, in order to prove to everyone he isn’t a hypocrite, Chope will object to his own legislation to make sure it doesn’t progress.
TuesdayTuesday
When Colombia scored their injury-time equaliser, I was certain I knew how England’s World Cup was going to end. This was a game I had seen many times before and it wasn’t pretty. Extra time, penalties, on the plane home. I got two out of three right and I still can’t quite believe we finally won a penalty shootout. I watched the game at home with my son, who was up from Brighton with some friends, and I couldn’t help remembering that he’d been with me when England had won their last penalty shootout in the quarter-finals of the Euros back in 1996. Not that Robbie would remember that, as he was just nine months old and his contribution to the proceedings had been to crawl round the room getting in the way. So while it was a nice father-son bonding moment, it probably meant rather more to me than it did to Robbie. Once I had got over the shock of winning a football match, my lasting thoughts were rather more existential. Where had the previous 22 years got to? It felt like no time at all to me but to Robbie it was literally a lifetime. Still, at least we had both been ready to suffer for the cause. Theresa May disclosed she had been too anxious to watch. If the prime minister’s nerves can’t take a penalty shootout, how on earth is she going to cope when the Brexit negotiations get really messy?When Colombia scored their injury-time equaliser, I was certain I knew how England’s World Cup was going to end. This was a game I had seen many times before and it wasn’t pretty. Extra time, penalties, on the plane home. I got two out of three right and I still can’t quite believe we finally won a penalty shootout. I watched the game at home with my son, who was up from Brighton with some friends, and I couldn’t help remembering that he’d been with me when England had won their last penalty shootout in the quarter-finals of the Euros back in 1996. Not that Robbie would remember that, as he was just nine months old and his contribution to the proceedings had been to crawl round the room getting in the way. So while it was a nice father-son bonding moment, it probably meant rather more to me than it did to Robbie. Once I had got over the shock of winning a football match, my lasting thoughts were rather more existential. Where had the previous 22 years got to? It felt like no time at all to me but to Robbie it was literally a lifetime. Still, at least we had both been ready to suffer for the cause. Theresa May disclosed she had been too anxious to watch. If the prime minister’s nerves can’t take a penalty shootout, how on earth is she going to cope when the Brexit negotiations get really messy?
WednesdayWednesday
For some reason, my name appears to have been omitted from the guest lists of all of the many parties hosted by ministers, MPs and media organisations in Westminster. Obviously I wouldn’t have gone to any of them, as I’m basically quite antisocial and sipping mineral water while everyone else gets pissed and having conversations in which I can only pick out one word in three – I’m a bit deaf – with people I don’t really know has limited appeal. But it would have been nice to be asked. So I’ve had to rely on friends to fill me in on what I’ve been missing. The best gossip has come from the Conservative summer party at the Hurlingham Club at which all their top donors and cabinet ministers are present. One donor was overheard saying to another: “What on earth are we doing giving money to this shitshow?” The highlight of the occasion was an auction at which one of the top prizes was either a dinner for four friends with Michael Gove and Sarah Vine at their west London home or a day out with Esther McVey. Choices, choices.For some reason, my name appears to have been omitted from the guest lists of all of the many parties hosted by ministers, MPs and media organisations in Westminster. Obviously I wouldn’t have gone to any of them, as I’m basically quite antisocial and sipping mineral water while everyone else gets pissed and having conversations in which I can only pick out one word in three – I’m a bit deaf – with people I don’t really know has limited appeal. But it would have been nice to be asked. So I’ve had to rely on friends to fill me in on what I’ve been missing. The best gossip has come from the Conservative summer party at the Hurlingham Club at which all their top donors and cabinet ministers are present. One donor was overheard saying to another: “What on earth are we doing giving money to this shitshow?” The highlight of the occasion was an auction at which one of the top prizes was either a dinner for four friends with Michael Gove and Sarah Vine at their west London home or a day out with Esther McVey. Choices, choices.
ThursdayThursday
At Wimbledon, the British tennis player Harriet Dart was photographed reading an inspirational message that read: “Believe, commit, grunt.” It didn’t quite work for her as she was beaten in the first round by the seventh seed, Karolina Plíšková, but it might be more effective for cabinet ministers ahead of this Friday’s crucial cabinet minibreak at Chequers to finalise some kind of Brexit deal to offer the EU. With a day to go, it’s not shaping up to be a great success. The Brexit secretary, David Davis, has already dismissed Theresa May’s new “facilitated customs arrangement” without even having its existence confirmed. There again, so have Michel Barnier and Angela Merkel, so he’s in good company. Only in the UK could you waste weeks of time and effort on a deal you know the other side is going to reject. Meanwhile, others in the cabinet are getting twitchy about being bounced into a soft Brexit and have holed up with Boris Johnson in the Foreign Office for a pre-summit summit. All that can be guaranteed is that no one will actually resign while they are still at Chequers. Once out of office, ministers immediately lose their limos and it’s a long walk to the station. And an even longer wait for a train that will probably be cancelled. As Chris Grayling will know.At Wimbledon, the British tennis player Harriet Dart was photographed reading an inspirational message that read: “Believe, commit, grunt.” It didn’t quite work for her as she was beaten in the first round by the seventh seed, Karolina Plíšková, but it might be more effective for cabinet ministers ahead of this Friday’s crucial cabinet minibreak at Chequers to finalise some kind of Brexit deal to offer the EU. With a day to go, it’s not shaping up to be a great success. The Brexit secretary, David Davis, has already dismissed Theresa May’s new “facilitated customs arrangement” without even having its existence confirmed. There again, so have Michel Barnier and Angela Merkel, so he’s in good company. Only in the UK could you waste weeks of time and effort on a deal you know the other side is going to reject. Meanwhile, others in the cabinet are getting twitchy about being bounced into a soft Brexit and have holed up with Boris Johnson in the Foreign Office for a pre-summit summit. All that can be guaranteed is that no one will actually resign while they are still at Chequers. Once out of office, ministers immediately lose their limos and it’s a long walk to the station. And an even longer wait for a train that will probably be cancelled. As Chris Grayling will know.
FridayFriday
My own personal thanks to the NHS which turned 70 this week. 26 years ago today, my daughter was born. The labour had been long and uneventful and I had spent most of the afternoon getting in the way and annoying everyone by anxiously pacing around the hospital room, while my wife did all the hard work. Even when the contractions became more frequent and the birth was imminent, everything seemed normal. The midwife was calm and I was hyperventilating. Then Anna was born and it was clear something was wrong. She wasn’t pink and crying. At which point doctors appeared from all directions, Anna was given oxygen, put under a grill in the incubator and rushed off to the paediatric intensive care ward. It goes without saying that I was worse than useless. Unsure whether I should stay with my wife or be with our daughter, I spent most of the next few hours wandering the corridors in between the two. But the hospital staff were just brilliant: compassionate, calm and genuinely lifesaving. That night they changed mine and my wife’s lives for ever. Anna remained in intensive care for another couple of days and by the time she was allowed down on to the ward, I was almost sorry to leave. I felt I would never be able to match the level of care she had just received.My own personal thanks to the NHS which turned 70 this week. 26 years ago today, my daughter was born. The labour had been long and uneventful and I had spent most of the afternoon getting in the way and annoying everyone by anxiously pacing around the hospital room, while my wife did all the hard work. Even when the contractions became more frequent and the birth was imminent, everything seemed normal. The midwife was calm and I was hyperventilating. Then Anna was born and it was clear something was wrong. She wasn’t pink and crying. At which point doctors appeared from all directions, Anna was given oxygen, put under a grill in the incubator and rushed off to the paediatric intensive care ward. It goes without saying that I was worse than useless. Unsure whether I should stay with my wife or be with our daughter, I spent most of the next few hours wandering the corridors in between the two. But the hospital staff were just brilliant: compassionate, calm and genuinely lifesaving. That night they changed mine and my wife’s lives for ever. Anna remained in intensive care for another couple of days and by the time she was allowed down on to the ward, I was almost sorry to leave. I felt I would never be able to match the level of care she had just received.
Digested week, digested: Football’s coming home ... hopefully.Digested week, digested: Football’s coming home ... hopefully.
BrexitBrexit
Digested weekDigested week
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