‘If parents are anxious to have their children well educated, they must not be afraid of a little castigation on the place which nature has ordained for the purpose.’ – Editorial in the Family Herald, January 1846
‘Referring to Gary Paul he said: “In my view I did my best to strike him on the buttocks where it would hurt but not cause any physical damage. I did not consider I gave him any excess caning.” Judge Bertrand Richards commented: “Buttocks were ordained by nature for the purpose.”’ – Court report in Daily Telegraph, August 1975
THE END OF Tony Blair’s honeymoon, so long predicted, can now be officially confirmed. His beloved mentor and dining companion Paul Johnson is threatening to file for divorce 'In his faultless handling of events after Diana’s death, Tony Blair seemed to be aligning himself with the decent majority,' he writes. ‘But sometimes he is less clear about where he stands.' According to Johnson, who has long boasted of his friendship with the Prime Minister, we are witnessing a millennial struggle between two ‘images of Britain’. One is the ‘tender and beautiful' country which wept for Princess Diana. But there is also 'the nightmare Britain' of pop groups, Booker Prize authors and sensation-seeking artists - 'perverted, brutal, horribly modish and clever-cunning, degenerate, exhibitionist, high-voiced and limp wristed…’
THE LONDON BOROUGH OF BROMLEY has emerged from suburban obscurity to play a strategic role in Brutish foreign policy. This startling news was hidden away on an inside page of the Guardian the other day. After seven years of trilateral negotiations between the Foreign Office, the Treasury and the civil service trade unions, the government has decided that overseas allowances for British diplomats are to be based on the cost of living in the south London suburb. Once a year, a team of ‘special investigators' will descend on the town, armed with clipboards and calculators, to check on the price of haircuts, dry-cleaning and baked beans.
Francis Wheen, born in 1957, was educated at Harrow, where he was a contemporary of Mark Thatcher. Wheen’s Marxist inclinations thus had plenty of material to work on from an early date, and it can be said that his leftist critique of society has always been at least as well grounded in observation as in theory. Based variously at the Guardian, at the Evening Standard and at Private Eye, he has kept up a constant barrage of outgoing artillery fire in the best traditions of polemical journalism – i.e. the polemics take account of the real world. His gift for invective can be uncomfortable for those who find themselves on the other end of it, as I know to my cost, but there is no denying the continuing relevance of his fine anger.