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Showing posts from August, 2012

Dirty Harry

Does Prince Harry's little game of strip billiards with a Vegas 'bachelorette' troupe really matter? His friends in the media have been quick to offer all kinds of bizarre justifications for his behaviour. The most ludicrous of these - which I read quite soon after the news of his escapade first broke - was that His Highness needed some R&R after the Olympics. Err... excuse me? Was he actually involved in the competitions? I don't remember his challenging Mo Farah for the tape in the 10,000 metres, do you? In which case, we're talking about the need to recover from a succession of jollies, where he lapped up the sporting action from the best seats in the house. Poor diddums. It must have been tiring. The next argument is that he's an army officer and about to ship out to Afghanistan shortly. If we had to fight the Taliban like him, so the argument goes, we too would be spending thousands of pounds a night on a luxury suite and inviting an excitable he

How strange can the Assange story get?

Personally, I feel pretty ambivalent when it comes to the case of Julian Assange and Wikileaks. In principle, it's great that the hypocrisy of world leaders is exposed, but it's a shame the whistle-blowing website has seemingly alienated a number of its erstwhile supporters. And while I have no idea whether any of the personal allegations against its founder hold water, I think the Swedish authorities are unlikely to be part of an international CIA-inspired conspiracy. What can't be disputed is Assange's capacity for generating headlines and disconcerting his enemies. From his political bid for the Australian Senate through to his grandstanding from the balcony of London's Ecuadorian embassy, the guy is a showman who wants to be remembered as a world figure. Although pretty much anything could happen in this bizarre, unfolding story, the smart money surely has to be on Assange staying in his embassy bolthole for years. In 2030, he may still be there, long after

Closing an account? It should be child's play...

Mrs W has had a real battle with NS&I - the UK's state-owned investment and savings organisation - over her attempts to close accounts for the two mini-Ws. You'd think that closing an account and getting your money out should be a pretty straightforward affair, but not with this particular arm of government bureaucracy. It involved form filling and phone calls on a scale not seen since Leonid Brezhnev asked the KGB to register all the establishments selling vodka within a 500-mile radius of Moscow. Anyway, after about three months of going backwards and forwards, the money did emerge and Mrs W was offered some modest compensation. We can forget it all and move on. As a footnote, however, it's worth flagging up one complete and utter absurdity of the way NS&I handles accounts for children. It seems from Mrs W's correspondence and conversations that any kid over the age of seven, who may nominally be an account holder, is required to give permission for their

Twice as Nice

Although Nice Airport is France's second biggest, the facilities beyond passport control are a little on the limited side. In terms of eating and drinking, passengers have a choice between a small convenience store which rejoices in the name of Ouishop and an Irish bar called Murphy's. The two establishments interconnect through supermarket-style gates that swing open and shut, so perhaps it should have dawned on me that the shop and the pub were, despite very different facades, one-and-the-same business. In fact, this connection only became clear when I looked at my receipt and saw that it was headed Murphy's-Ouishop. I feel Murphy's-Ouishop is a brand name with real potential for extension across multiple markets. Irish enough for Dublin and French enough for Paris. A place you might expect to find crackers, as well as a healthy serving of craic. To be sure, it has a je ne sais quoi about it.