After spending a lot of an pleasant Sunday studying lengthy, well-sourced accounts of what really occurred inside No 10 final week, I’m nonetheless none too clear concerning the denouement. Some tales ended with Dominic Cummings and Lee Cain being given their marching orders by Boris Johnson, who informed them to get out and never come again. Others had Cummings and Cain leaving on good phrases with the prime minister after a jokey final cup of tea collectively and promising to reform the band for the following election. Even when – I doubt it’s a query of if – any of the three protagonists write their very own accounts, I doubt we might be rather more the wiser. However Johnson does seem like utilizing the departure of Cummings and Cain to reset his fashion of presidency from a extra macho, abrasive tradition, so it was little shock to seek out on Monday {that a} minister had been allowed on Good Morning Britain to be interviewed by Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid after a programme boycott of 201 days. And inevitably it was Matt Hancock – the extra he tries to get his colleagues to love him, the extra they deal with him with no respect – who drew the quick straw. What adopted was 20 minutes of unmissable TV from which the well being secretary might be struggling PTSD. After Hancock mentioned he was there to reply questions, Morgan gently identified that he hadn’t answered the primary one he had been requested over whether or not he had supported the boycott. At which level, he tried to assert there had been no coordinated plan to keep away from GMB and that the rationale he hadn’t appeared in months was only a diary conflict. From there it was all downhill, with Morgan and Reid studying out a cost sheet of presidency failure and the well being secretary simply smiling and nodding, whereas saying as little as potential. “It’s been pretty to be on,” Hancock concluded. It hadn’t regarded that means.

Larry the Cat: ‘There are still some rats left.’
Larry the Cat: ‘There are nonetheless some rats left.’ {Photograph}: Neil Corridor/EPA


In earlier years, my spouse and I’ve binge-watched The Crown as quickly because it got here out – generally even watching three or 4 episodes per evening. This yr we are attempting to ration ourselves. It’s going to be an extended winter and we need to spin out one of the best collection for so long as potential, on condition that we don’t do a lot else within the evenings aside from watch TV. To this point we’re as much as episode three and loving it. I can’t fairly see why so many individuals are upset there are bits which are factually incorrect because it was solely ever claiming to be a drama and never a documentary. I’m positive there have been as many inaccuracies within the earlier collection – not that I might know as I’m hardly an professional on the royals – however nobody appeared to make an excessive amount of fuss again then. I assume the nearer The Crown will get to the current day, the extra individuals there are round who could have their very own experiences and recollections of the occasions. I’m primarily simply having fun with it as a result of the scripts are firstclass – it was a pleasant contact to have a side-plot of the wounded stag, which ended as a head on a Balmoral wall, as a metaphor for the looking down of Diana by the royal household as an acceptable trophy spouse for Charles – and since the performing is excellent. Olivia Colman is much much less one-dimensional than she was in collection three and Emma Corrin captures the vulnerability and neglect of Diana completely. Effectively, as much as the marriage at any charge, which is so far as we’ve received. The one efficiency that barely grates is Gillian Anderson as Margaret Thatcher. Usually I like virtually all the things Anderson does, however this time she appears to be simply an excessive amount of of a caricature. The voice and the mannerisms simply really feel too exaggerated and unnatural. However then as I by no means knew Thatcher both, aside from by means of what I noticed of her on the information, possibly Anderson has nailed her.

Diana and Charles in The Crown
‘Don’t fear, the BBC had nothing to do with this explicit TV present.’ {Photograph}: Des Willie/AP


Nearly the entire issues I’ve ever purchased which have elevated in worth have been acquired both as a result of I wanted or wished them. I discover myself dwelling in a home that I now couldn’t afford, just because once we purchased it 26 years in the past home costs had been low and the world by which we lived wasn’t thought of significantly fascinating. I additionally discover myself with a canine that’s 5 occasions extra priceless than once we received him 9 years in the past, as pet costs have rocketed by means of lockdown. But in relation to purpose-bought investments – I’m pondering of my pension particularly – I appear to have the anti-Midas contact as none have made sufficient to do the job for which they had been supposed. And I now discover myself within the place of getting missed out but once more on a possibility to make myself financially safe for all times. When questioned by Keir Starmer at prime minister’s questions concerning the billions of kilos in contracts which have been awarded to Tory donors and pals of Conservative MPs for PPE – a few of it unusable – Boris Johnson was totally unrepentant. The nation ought to have been thanking the Tories for coming to the rescue in its hour of want and it was disappointing that no Labour MPs had been equally patriotic. If solely I had carried out the identical, too. Through the first lockdown, the college the place my son labored as a lab technician received him and others like him to make plastic face masks within the workshops whereas the scholars had been away. Fairly than permit the college to barter the contract with the Division of Well being and Social Care, I ought to – as others have carried out – have stepped in because the middle-man to double the value and brought 50% of the additional revenue as a charge.


My expectations for Christmas diminish by the day. I had already given up way back on any hope of our daughter and her husband making it over from the US in December, and I’m now questioning if will probably be potential to see a lot of different members of my household as properly. Although I feel I’m lined for my mum, because the sensible care dwelling the place she lives is within the strategy of changing one room right into a visiting space, divided by a Perspex sheet. We can look however not contact. The factor is, that a lot as I might be devastated to not have our son and his girlfriend to remain and the concept of my spouse and I working our means by means of a turkey and mince pies on our personal appals me, I can’t see the purpose of getting a five-day amnesty of all the principles over the Christmas interval just for it to be then adopted by a 25-day punitive lockdown to allow the NHS to deal with all the additional coronavirus infections attributable to the respite. So I slightly count on a lot of Christmas to be spent on Zoom, together with lengthy drives to go for walks with kinfolk. My spouse, together with our pal Debby, is extra upbeat concerning the state of affairs and they’re each decided that Christmas shouldn’t slip by completely uncelebrated. So they’re each engaged on plans to go full bling and switch the entrance of our homes into an enormous flashing mild present of snowmen and Father Christmas along with his sleigh. God is aware of what the electrical energy invoice goes to be. Or who’s going to place the lights up. My suggestion that we had a large inexperienced coronavirus, full with its little suckers, was not properly acquired.


Marcus Rashford turns into extra of a legend by the day. Having already secured free faculty meals all through the vacations till at the very least March subsequent yr – don’t guess towards an additional extension – he has now spoken of his newfound enjoyment in studying books and has began a e book membership for youths who may miss out on the pleasure of studying. Books had been actually a part of what stored me roughly sane as a toddler, as a result of I didn’t have many pals and studying was an escape right into a world that appeared each extra thrilling than my very own, but additionally someway safer. Like many children within the 1960s I began off with Enid Blyton – I might simply knock off one in all her books in a day – earlier than shifting on to Biggles and Sherlock Holmes. My studying tastes had been by no means that intellectual – I tended to treat Charles Dickens, George Orwell and Jane Austen because the form of books that had been written to be learn at college – and largely I learn thrillers or nonfiction. My bookshelves had been filled with Alistair Maclean, Desmond Bagley, Hammond Innes, John le Carré, Craig Thomas, Jack Higgins and writers like them. Together with Len Deighton, who – like Le Carré – was a grasp of the chilly warfare spy style and his trilogy of Berlin Recreation, Mexico Set and London Match are nonetheless three of my favorite reads. Like many thriller writers, he did barely lose his means as soon as the Berlin Wall got here down however his books had been nonetheless all the time value studying. And now I’m delighted to find that his backlist has been included within the Penguin Trendy Classics. So it seems that each one these years in the past I used to be studying traditional books all alongside. It was simply that neither I nor anybody else knew it.

Digested week, digested: ‘The Built-in Evaluate: To Infinity and Past!’