There is something about the scenes emerging from Cop26 that seems to encapsulate the insanity, vanity and general vacuousness of the modern world perfectly.
It’s a carousel of self-obsessed, bombastic, virtue-signalling hypocrites, from Sleepy Joe Biden snoozing on the job while his fleet of gas-guzzling limousines sit with engines idling out the back, to Nicola Sturgeon ambushing Sir
With one exception. One small, white-haired, beady-eyed nonagenarian with a mind like a steel trap and a sense of decorum combined with quiet humility that, frankly, knocks all these preening popinjays into a cocked hat. I’m talking about the Queen, of course
Then there’s Greta Thunberg throwing her toys out of her pram (by the way, Greta, your dismissal of world leaders’ ‘blah blah blah’ on green issues was only quite funny the first time; now it’s just annoying) to Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, spouting unutterable nonsense about Nazis
I don’t know about you, but the sight of a man who has made an obscene fortune from selling mass-produced rubbish made in China (responsible for 27 per cent of global carbon emissions) lecturing us all about doing our bit to stop global warming is, to put it mildly, a bit rich.
For an event designed to draw attention to the plight of the planet and those already suffering the effects of climate change, all Cop26 seems to have done so far is remind us how spectacularly out of touch so many of the so-called great and good really are.
With one exception. One small, white-haired, beady-eyed nonagenarian with a mind like a steel trap and a sense of decorum combined with quiet humility that, frankly, knocks all these preening popinjays into a cocked hat.
I’m talking about the Queen, of course. A woman whose decades of experience have taught her that wealth and power don’t always go hand-in-hand with wisdom. A monarch whose greatness comes not from the material trappings of royalty but from a long life dedicated to duty.
When she speaks, the world listens. And not because she speaks loudly or forcefully, or because she surrounds herself with symbols of power. We listen because she is calm, wise and a little magical.
Add to these the billionaires, most notably Jeff Bezos, fresh from his mate Bill Gates’s 66th birthday party in Turkey, where guests were shuttled from superyacht to beach club by helicopter
Yet she remains so very human. Her speech, delivered via a video message from the White Drawing Room in Windsor, saw her dressed in green with a butterfly brooch on her shoulder, echoing the photograph on the nearby table of her late husband the Duke of Edinburgh in a cloud of butterflies in Mexico in 1988.
As she acknowledged, with great fondness, his role in highlighting the issue of the environment as far back as 1969, I was reminded of the sheer scope and magnitude of their 73-year partnership. And her praise for her son Charles and grandson William were as touching as any proud mother’s.
But at no point did she indulge in self-pity or ask for our sympathy. She was there, despite her poor health, to fulfil her duty. And that is what she did, with quiet grace.
If she realised she was staging a bit of a PR coup, it didn’t show. But that’s what it was.
Against the backdrop of all those motorcades and private jets and hot air-emitting climate protesters, the simplicity of her no-frills message was as refreshing as a bright spring morning.
It’s a carousel of self-obsessed, bombastic, virtue-signalling hypocrites, from Sleepy Joe Biden snoozing on the job while his fleet of gas-guzzling limousines sit with engines idling out the back, to Nicola Sturgeon ambushing Sir David Attenborough for a selfie
Do Prince Andrew’s lawyers know something we don’t? Or is their assertion that Virginia Giuffre is not only a gold-digger but complicit in the abuse of other girls by Jeffrey Epstein the most daring legal defence ever? Either way, expect fireworks soon.
Epidurals aren’t so evil after all, then
Good news: a study published last week of more than 435,000 women has concluded that epidurals pose no risk to babies. When I was having my first child more than 18 years ago, it was made very clear in my NCT classes that having an epidural was not only a cop-out but incredibly selfish, as it might pose a risk to ‘baby’ (it drove me mad how midwives would refer to ‘baby’ instead of ‘the baby’).
In truth, the only risk to my baby was that a midwife didn’t spot that my daughter was the wrong way up, and almost killed both of us.
I hope women can now get the pain relief they deserve without being made to feel guilty.
Is it just me, or does Mark Zuckerberg look more and more like a creepy AI version of his human self? Not someone you would really want to run into anywhere, let alone in a darkened metaverse.
Is it just me, or does Mark Zuckerberg look more and more like a creepy AI version of his human self?
Nicola Sturgeon urges the world’s leaders to ‘put egos aside over the next few days’ as Scotland plays host to Cop26. Hmm.
As far as I know, she is the only politician there who is in this month’s edition of Vogue magazine, the ultimate bible of vanity.
The Education Secretary has suggested extending the school day. Brilliant idea — not only would it help pupils catch up post-Covid, it would also mean that year groups could be staggered to reduce virus transmission. While he’s at it, though, could he also look at bringing in a later start, particularly in secondary schools? Last term my son’s school moved from 8.30am to 9.30am to make it easier for pupils to travel outside rush hour — and it was absolute bliss, the difference between a civilised start to the day and waking up to Kevin the Teenager.
Asked about the prospect of a meat tax, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, right, said she was more in favour of a ‘carrot’ than a ‘stick’ to encourage people to change their eating habits. I hope that’s an organic, locally sourced carrot, Liz. Otherwise you’ll be in for no end of stick.
Asked about the prospect of a meat tax, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, right, said she was more in favour of a ‘carrot’ than a ‘stick’ to encourage people to change their eating habits
So the Government is thinking of prescribing e-cigarettes as a way to compensate tobacco companies for rising duty on cigarettes. For years, giants like Philip Morris and British American Tobacco have been quietly investing in vapes. Do we really want them getting their hands on NHS budgets?
Ofqual has suggested that exam papers should use simpler language and put harder questions last to boost equality and avoid ‘demotivating’ pupils from more diverse backgrounds. But the whole point of an exam is that it’s a test. It’s meant to be hard. It may also help to ensure that when you go to hospital — or use any other service that requires knowledge and training — the person with your health or life in their hands actually knows what they are doing.
Glad to see the powers-that-be have finally woken up to just how spectacularly stupid smart motorways are. Stupid and dangerous, like so many modern inventions that begin with the prefix ‘smart’. An oxymoron, with the emphasis on the moron.
Billie’s pearl of green wisdom
Incredibly irritating side-effect of Cop26: celebrities pointing out the b******g obvious. Exhibit No 1: Billie Eilish. ‘We must stand together and speak up to save our planet, not just for us, but for our future generations, and we need urgent, urgent action now and to work together as one.’
Really, Billie? Now why didn’t I think of that.
Incredibly irritating side-effect of Cop26: celebrities pointing out the b******g obvious. Exhibit No 1: Billie Eilish
Trees are awesome
One thing I can really get on board with at this climate summit is the pledge to reverse deforestation by 2030. Not only are trees key to soaking up carbon emissions (a recent report found that increasing the Earth’s forests by an area the size of the U.S. would cut atmospheric carbon dioxide by 25 per cent), but they are some of the most impressive organisms on the planet.
I recently went to see a yew in a modest churchyard near a friend’s house in Wales that is reputed to be over 5,000 years old and still thriving.
How can you not be in awe of something that was alive while our ancestors were still living in caves — and may yet outlive us all?