Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Moving Day

Finally the house we wanted came on the market. It's a bit close to the town as you can see and is a flood risk, but one can't have everything. I'd love to have you all over for the weekend housewarming, but we're pushed for beds.

Idle is up to his ochsters in dust, boxes, spirit bottles less than a quarter full, ties he had forgotten about (some collectors' items from Hong Kong with appalling photographs on the inside of the wide bottom bit, as it were), and wardrobes full of clothes that he last managed to squeeze into a decade ago. Will any be thrown away? No. When the grim reaper starts clearing his throat I can see myself losing a few stone like my poor old Pater is suffering right now, and I want to avoid the mournful late-dotage look of a decrepit old gentleman in a collar four sizes too big for his shrunken neck. Same goes for kilt jackets, tennis shorts, lurid summer holiday trousers and cricket sweaters. I have unearthed a splendid collection of trouser braces that are a legacy of the 1980s City look. No, none of it will be binned; Lady Idle raises the eyebrow and curls the lip almost invisibly, but just enough to spell imminent danger and withdrawal of privileges. It is a risk that has to be run, however.

Three days after touchdown in the new gaff, we are off to the highlands to help them with their wildlife problem in the rivers and moors. Planned months ago, nothing one could do. Hurrah!

Enjoy the summer.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Courtside to Quality

I can't tell you how thrilling it was to be on Centre Court yesterday. The papers won't tell you this, for Andy Murray won a match at 9.30pm last night to reach the final, but before that, best player in the world narrowly defeated a huge, languid, talented, gutsy Argie called Del Potro, who charmed the crowd not just as underdog but as a great character with an ironic sense of humour. Idle has been lucky enough to get to Wimbledon most of the past twenty five years, and this was comfortably the highest-quality match he has seen. The sportsmanship was wonderful as well.

The serving was brutal and consistent - just seven double faults in 57 games, the return of serve astonishing, and the groundstrokes - well, I've never seen the ball hit so hard, so consistently, long rallies so breathtaking. Every now and again Del Boy, as some of the crowd insisted on calling him, unleashed what my host and I started calling his 'bazooka' - a forehand of extraordinary power, always crosscourt, barely clearing the net. Djokovic only once got his racket to it, which was an edge, taken at deep third man by a spectator in Row Z. The synchronised gasp and applause of 15,000 people when he did this, three or four times a set, was memorable.

This was TOP sport. Djokovic deserved his narrow victory. Del Potro deserved his own standing ovation. He will be a very popular man at Wimbledon for as long as he keeps coming here.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Filthy Lucre and the Greasy Pole

A gathering of honest MPs at Westminster

Like the old tale of the man who asked an Irishman for directions and was told ‘well, yer wouldn’t wanta be startin from here’, I suspect the answer to the question ‘should MPs be paid more’ is, ‘yes, but not THESE MPs’.

In other words, we want a much higher calibre of MP and we’d be prepared to pay enough to attract him or her. But much of the current lot deserve to be banged up for fraud rather than paid more.

There is a solution – fewer MPs, equal sized constituencies and open primaries. Make every single one of them go through a gruelling local selection by open primary. Allow no party placement or union sponsorship.

As in many other areas, Dan Hannan is clear and succinct: