Magazine article The Spectator


Magazine article The Spectator


Article excerpt

Talk about from the ridiculously sublime to the sublimely ridiculous. My fiancée and I have just been staying at the incomparable 13th-century Château de Bagnols near Lyons. Spectacular panoramic views of the Beaujolais countryside; a Michelin-starred restaurant; Olga Polizzi's taste (our room had a Louis XIII bed); pure perfection in hospitality. Then straight on to Center Parcs in Wiltshire with my children. Of course, I was warned how nargy it was going to be, and several people assumed I was only going there to write a spectacularly snobbish article. I was also pretty suspicious about a place that couldn't spell its own name properly, in either the adjective or the noun. In the end it was perfectly bearable, I suppose, and my insufficiently class-conscious children adored every moment, needless to say. The weird thing was that it somehow wound up costing as much as Bagnols.

Ihad ample opportunity to make a study of tattoos while at Center Parcs, and have concluded that whereas the older Briton sports traditional representations of anchors, regimental mottos -- for some reason the Royal Artillery's 'Ubique' was, well, ubique -- and loved ones' names, the younger generation tend to have unintelligible New Agey-style scribbles that often look like the logos for triads. I blame Beckham.

I woke up last week with a wasp between my toes, which stung me. I expected it to hurt horribly, but surprisingly it didn't at all. Do we have an exaggerated fear of being stung because of the memory of it happening in childhood, when it was much more painful? Rather as buildings from our youth seem smaller in later life, wasp stings aren't so bad now. Or maybe it was just a small wasp.

Asign of our affluent times that I spotted in Brompton Road this week: a beggar, sitting on the pavement with a cardboard sign saying 'Please Help', while chatting on his mobile phone.

Panorama's Gavin Esler has taken me to task for saying that 'The United Kingdom hasn't yet lost a war', writing on some blogsite that I can't be much of an historian, can I, if I hadn't heard of the American War of Independence. Yet the UK was founded by the Act of Union of 1800, 17 years after the end of the American War.

Yah-boo sucks, Mr Esler.

Speaking of which, since the war against al-Qa'eda is obviously going to be a long one, shouldn't we start beautifying some of the unsightly security apparatus that was put up hurriedly and supposedly temporarily after 9/11? They're doubtless going to be there for a few decades or so, so oughtn't the huge concrete blocks outside the Palace of Westminster and the American embassy be covered in ivy, like the Citadel part of the Admiralty on Horse Guards Parade? …

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