Magazine article The Spectator

Grass Roots

Magazine article The Spectator

Grass Roots

Article excerpt

Sir: Paul Johnson's invocation of the lawn (And another thing, 12 May) as England's contribution to European vistas was underlined recently when the Italian foreign minister, Massimo d'Alema, spoke at St Antony's College, Oxford. The organisers of the event had the excellent idea to plan a walk after his talk. As we all strolled past Keble College and the Parks and got close to Trinity College, where a feast was laid on for the Italian statesman, he looked right just before turning into the Broad before Wadham College and saw the full magnificence of Trinity's lawns. 'Giardino belissimo!' he exclaimed.

As a minister at the Foreign Office, I tried to persuade colleagues to transform the magnificent courtyard there into a partly covered green space to be used for public events, concerts and so forth. Alas, the pleasure of parking a car for ministers and officials trumped my initiative and the FCO is lawn-free. …

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