Digested week: maybe time to rethink sleaze and say goodbye to Kane


Monday

I had rather hoped that my daughter might choose to watch the Spurs game with me on Sunday night. But having just received the email notification of her second negative Covid test, which released her from quarantine inside the house, she perhaps understandably chose to celebrate by going out to the pub with one of her friends. So yet again, I watched the match alone. And while Gareth Bale got the headlines for his hat-trick, it was the performance of Harry Kane that most caught my attention. The striker still showed some nice touches, but he appeared distracted to me. As if his mind wasn’t fully on the game. Which made me wonder if he might actually be planning a move away from the club at the end of the season. And if he is, then I will have no complaints. I know all fans, myself included, will be heartbroken to see Kane go, but I can’t help feeling that he has stayed at White Hart Lane more than long enough to prove his loyalty to the club. To put it bluntly, he has kept trying – unlike some players in his position that I’ve watched over the years – and has shown he is too good for us and deserves the chance to win some competitions with a better club. Providing that team is not English, of course – that really would be too much to take. In the meantime, with the Champions League out of reach as far as I’m concerned, I am now torn between wanting Spurs to qualify for the Europa League – though God knows why as I will only moan about Thursday night football if we do – and hoping for the season to peter out and end the misery. Still, at least the feeling of disappointment is familiar.

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Tuesday

Given that Boris Johnson has supposedly had his eyes set on No 10 since he was a schoolboy, you might have thought that he would have had plenty of time to work out if he could afford to be prime minister. But apparently not, according to recent newspaper reports. He neglected to put aside some of the £275K he used to trouser for some hastily dashed off columns for the Daily Telegraph – not to mention the odd five-figure after dinner speech – and now finds he is expected to get by on the £150K prime ministerial salary. Which, in Boris World, is tantamount to being broke and explains why he has been looking for party donors to cover the cost of the Downing Street refurbishment and his one-year-old son’s childcare. And weirdly, almost no one seems to be that bothered by Johnson’s unusual financial arrangements judging by the latest opinion polls for this week’s Hartlepool byelection. Far from being damaged by the allegations of sleaze, the Conservatives have now opened up a massive 17% lead over Labour. Voters who might be lucky to be on the average median salary of £30K apparently see nothing wrong with a prime minister pleading poverty while earning five times as much as them. So maybe it’s time for those of us, myself included, who find it both bizarre and wrong that Boris can’t say who initially paid the costs of the new wallpaper and sofa to bow to the inevitable and have a rethink. Far from being done on the sly, it should become the new normal for all prime ministers to sign lucrative marketing deals when they take office, with the sponsors’ logos sewn on to their jackets. If it works for snooker players, it can work for politicians.

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Wednesday

Random House has just announced that it will be publishing the Duchess of Sussex’s first children’s book, The Bench, at the beginning of next month. The book is about a variety of different fathers’ relationships with their sons and is reported to have been inspired by a poem Meghan wrote while watching Prince Harry playing with their son, Archie. If by poetry you can count the doggerel that was released as a preview. “Looking at My Love / And our beautiful boy / And here in the window / I’ll have tears of great joy”. I know it’s harmless and well-meaning stuff, but forgive me for feeling underwhelmed. What is it with so many celebs who have children that makes them think they can write a picture book? Do they imagine that because there aren’t many words, then it must be quite easy to knock one out in between yoga and pilates classes? The reality is that it is just as hard, if not harder, to write a book that will appeal to young children – and not forgetting the parents or grandparents who may be doing the reading – as it is to write for adults. There’s a reason why classics such as The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Tiger Who Came to Tea and The Gruffalo are still as well read now as when they were first published. It’s been a while since I read to my own children, but I can clearly remember them quickly rejecting any books we tried that they felt were substandard. I can also remember having to read Avocado Baby over and over again to Robbie at bed time. And if I showed signs of slacking by turning over two pages at once, he’d force me to go back over the bits I had missed out. There was no getting past the two-year-old thought police.

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Thursday

A new study of more than 9,000 pets by researchers at the University of Helsinki has found that small dogs are more aggressive than large ones. Small breeds, such as poodles, chihuahuas and miniature schnauzers were far more likely to growl, bite and display other antisocial tendencies than large ones, such as labradors and golden retrievers. The one odd one out was the German shepherd, which was both large and a bit of a bastard, so don’t expect security companies to replace them with Maltese terriers as guard dogs any time soon. Male dogs were also found to be more aggressive than female ones. Researchers attributed their findings to small dogs being more fearful. I guess when you’re constantly at risk of either being trod on or unnoticed then you’ve got more to growl about. Our own dog, Herbert Hound, is a cockapoo – when we first got him nearly 10 years ago he was just about the only one on the common, but now Tooting Bec is overrun with them – and doesn’t really qualify as either small or large. Which might explain why his default personality trait when out for a walk is passive-aggression. While he’s almost always unfailingly polite to other dogs and their owners – he’s a classic beta male – he is an expert dawdler with selective hearing. You can call him countless times and he will pretend not to have heard until he has finished investigating whatever it is he’s come across. And when he does deign to reappear, it’s almost as though he’s thrilled to have ensured the walk is taking place at his pace. Even being temporarily put back on his lead, he sees as a result and pulls ahead. A statement that it’s him that is taking us for a walk rather than the other way round.

US president, Joe Biden, and his wife Jill visit ex-president Jimmy Carter and wife Rosalynn
US president, Joe Biden, and his wife Jill visit ex-president Jimmy Carter and wife Rosalynn: ‘I told you it was a bad idea to give the photographer some psychedelics.’ Photograph: The Carter Centre

Friday

One of the many bonuses of Donald Trump losing last year’s presidential election was him also getting banned from social media sites in January for his part in inciting the riots on the Capitol. The silence has been soothing to the soul. But if the world has moved on from Trump, the former president has not moved on from his vision of the world and has instead taken to publishing tweet-like comments from his new website called From the Desk of Donald J Trump. Recent pronouncements have included, “The Fraudulent Presidential Election of 2020 will be, from this day forth, known as THE BIG LIE!”, “So nice to see RINO (Republican in Name Only) Mitt Romney booed off the stage at the Utah Republican State Convention. They are among the earliest to have figured this guy out, a stone cold loser!” and “What Facebook, Twitter, and Google have done is a total disgrace and an embarrassment to our Country. Free Speech has been taken away from the President of the United States because the Radical Left Lunatics are afraid of the truth, but the truth will come out anyway, bigger and stronger than ever before.” People are invited both to sign up for email notifications whenever he writes something new and to repost the message on their own Twitter and Facebook feeds. It’s enough to almost make Boris Johnson look classy.

Digested week: Super Thursday



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