Magazine article The Spectator

Portrait of the Week

Magazine article The Spectator

Portrait of the Week

Article excerpt


Six months of talks in Northern Ireland, chaired by Dr Richard Haass, a retired American diplomat, ended without resolving the contentious issues of flagflying, sectarian parades or a policy on trying crimes committed during the troubles.

Bus loads of Romanians and Bulgarians set off for London as restrictions on their right to work in Britain were lifted. Nigel Farage, the leader of Ukip, called for refugees from the conflict in Syria to be given asylum in Britain; Lord Howe, the health minister, said that some should be accommodated in the European Union. Tories were said to have persuaded Boris Johnson to undertake 'short bursts' of campaigning before the election. The Duke of Cambridge is to spend ten weeks studying agriculture at Cambridge University.

David Cameron, the Prime Minister, on visiting Yalding, Kent, heard from Erica Olivares that she and many like her had been 'abandoned' during the floods in Kent and Surrey that left thousands without electricity over Christmas. The river Mole had proved particularly troublesome.

Basil Scarsella, the chief executive of UK Power Networks, the regional electricity distributor, said that too many of its staff had been away at the time. The FTSE ended the year 14 per cent up. The price of rail fares rose by an average of 2.8 per cent, with the cost of an annual season ticket from Basingstoke to London rising from £3,952 to £4,076. Chelsea football club lost £49.4 million for the year up to 30 June 2013. Mr Cameron was said to have banned mention of any sites for new garden cities.

Peter Geach, the philosopher, died, aged 97.

Among the New Year's honours, three appointments were made to the Order of Merit: Simon Rattle, the conductor; Sir Magdi Yacoub, the surgeon; and Martin West, the classicist, who in 2001 was Lord Mallard in the once-a-century ceremony at All Souls College. Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, the composer, was made a Companion of Honour, as was Onora, Lady O'Neill.

Knighthoods went to Antony Gormley, the sculptor, and Dr Noel Malcolm, a former political correspondent of The Spectator. Marcus Setchell, gynaecologist to the royal household, was made a KCVO, and Keir Starmer, the former Director of Public Prosecutions, a Knight of the Bath.

Penelope Keith was one of 16 new Dame Commanders of the British Empire. …

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