The curse of having to go vegan

I’m on a no-alcohol, no-caffeine, no-sugar, vegan diet. It’s less fun than it sounds. Occasionally I cheat, but mostly I don’t, because I don’t want to upset the lovely doctors at the Infusio clinic in Frankfurt who gave me my stem cells for the Lyme disease treatment and who insist they need the right anti-inflammatory, alkaline diet to thrive. And besides, even though it’s horrible, I’m quite enjoying, in my masochistic way the rigour and the punishing asceticism. Also, it has given me insights into a world which I never imagined in a million years I would ever enter.

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Forget the BBC: Only Channel 5 Does Proper Documentaries These Days

You don’t get quite the same production values in things like C5’s How the Victorians Built Britain but you don’t get the PC bollocks of Bodyguard and King Arthur’s Britain

Richard Madden in Bodyguard


What a load of utter tripe Bodyguard (BBC1, Sundays) was. Admittedly, I came to it late having missed all the sex scenes with Keeley Hawes and Robb Stark, which may have dazzled me in the way they seem to have dazzled many impressionable viewers.Sex scenes in TV drama are a bit like the chaff used by fighters to distract radar-guided missiles. You’re so busy feeling simultaneously awkward and embarrassed and half-titillated, covering your eyes with your fingers, wishing your other half wasn’t watching with you because then it would be proper porn and you could enjoy it, that you sometimes forget to notice what convoluted, implausible tosh the surrounding drama is.

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15 reasons to fall in love with Germany and Germans

Be sure to lose your wallet in Germany. Photo: Getty

Things I learned about the Germans after a fortnight living as a non–tourist in Frankfurt:

1. Germans, and Germany generally, are among the world’s most underrated things. True they are not so adept at wit, snark, banter, jocularity or general frivolity. But they are kind, welcoming, generous and unlike, say, the French, charmingly grateful when you attempt to speak their quaint, guttural, impossibly inflected language even though — stimmt! — they speak yours so much better.
2. Here’s what happened when I lost my wallet.

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Meet the queens of cryptocurrency

James Delingpole on the women shaping a male-dominated industry

Perhaps it will still fly to the moon.

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Gloriously macho: Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan reviewed

It’s trash of course, but high-octane, watchable trash: John Krasinski and Wendell Pierce in Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan (Amazon Studios)
It’s trash of course, but high-octane, watchable trash: John Krasinski and Wendell Pierce in Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan (Amazon Studios)

For too long the leftie-dominated entertainment industry has been ignoring the truth about our world

This week’s guilty pleasure is Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan (Amazon Prime). It’s trash, of course, but very well done, high-octane, watchable trash. And if you want to feel better about your lowbrow tastes, make sure you read the finger-wagging critique by one Sonia Saraiya in Vanity Fair first.

Jack Ryan feels like a machine designed to turn us all into the sort of viewers who disappear smiling down jingoistic Fox News rabbit holes,’ she says, enticingly. And: ‘Both its protagonist and its plot are based on the foundational, unquestioned notion that American-military might — the best-funded killing infrastructure in human history — is helping to save the world.’ And: ‘Its other primary story objective is proving that Jack Ryan deserves his white male entitlement…’

Not so much a guilty pleasure after that little lecture, then; more a bounden and sacred duty.

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Explained: Why you’ll never understand memes

Johny Johny Yes Papa

Boy and I have been driving the Fawn mad by singing the ‘Johny Johny Yes Papa’ song. It goes (roughly to the tune Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star): ‘Johny Johny/ Yes, Papa/ Eating Sugar?/ No, Papa/ Telling Lies?/ No, Papa/ Open Your Mouth!/ Ha Ha Ha.’ In the likely event that you don’t know it, you’ll probably find it as irritating as the Fawn does — especially the misspelling of Johnny and the bad Indian accent. But in the unlikely event that you do, you’ll be congratulating yourself on your pop cultural credibility. This is because for a brief period peaking around last weekend — ‘Johny Johny Yes Papa’ was the world’s most fashionable meme.

Even if you’re not exactly sure what a meme is, you’ll be familiar with a few. Downfall — aka ‘Hitler reacts to’ — has become a stalwart of the genre.

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All the good non-fiction that was ever on TV was made by middle-aged men

The rough, simple and cheerily thick lifeguards of Bondi Rescue. Image: Mojo Down Under
The rough, simple and cheerily thick lifeguards of Bondi Rescue. Image: Mojo Down Under

But the BBC has decided the era of the middle-aged male presenter is over, which is why the only thing I can bear to watch is Bondi Rescue.

All the good non-fiction things that were ever on TV — from Kenneth Clark’s Civilisation to David Attenborough’s Planet Earth(the bits where he’s not proselytising about climate doom, I mean), from Andrew Graham-Dixon’s arty jaunts to Italy to Jonathan Meades’s bizarro forays into architecture, from The World at War to all those more recent war porn documentaries narrated by Sam West, from Werner Herzog’s Little Dieter Needs To Fly to Louis Theroux doing a number on Jimmy Savile — have one thing in common: they were all made by middle-aged men.

Middle-aged men are the business. They’re comfortable in their skin; they’ve got hinterland and character; they’ve put in the hard yards and the long hours getting to know their stuff in that obsessive way only men really do; they’ve replaced the glibness and flashiness and irritating bumptiousness of youth with sly wit and bruised wisdom; they’ve mastered their craft, they know their shit — and now they’re giving the rest of us the benefit of their expertise, as middle-aged men have been doing since time immemorial.

But not any more, apparently.

Read the rest in the Spectator.

It’s not science I don’t trust – it’s the scientists

Margaret Thatcher: ‘the facts of life are conservative’ (Photo: Getty)
Everyone knows the real reason people like Donald Trump are sceptical of climate change is that conservatives are fundamentally anti-science. Some doubt science because it conflicts with their religious beliefs; others because its implications might mean radically shifting the global economy in an anti-growth or heavily statist direction, which goes against their free-market ideology; others because, being conservative, they are prisoners of their dogmatism, need closure and fear uncertainty. I hear this all the time from lefties on social media. And there seems to be some evidence to support it.

At least there is if you believe studies like The Republican War on Science (Mooney, 2005), Politicization of Science in the Public Sphere (Gauchat, 2012), and ‘Not for all the tea in China!’ Political Ideology and the Avoidance of Dissonance-Arousing Situations (Nam et al, 2013).

But there’s a wrinkle here and you may have guessed what it is.

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Holidays in Hell – Such A Pleasant Getaway from the BBC

Plus: the women who love Jeffrey Dahmer: Netflix’s Dark Tourist reviewed.

Tourist trap: Jeffrey Dahmer, aka the Milwaukee Cannibal (Photo: Getty)

Apparently there’s a new ‘character’ on University Challenge. I wouldn’t know. Last year, I vowed never again to raise my blood pressure by exposing myself to its new, gender-balanced questions: ‘Your starter for ten: which composer of Serenade for My Cat, rated by her father as the equal of Bach’s Goldberg Variations…’ Don’t know. Don’t care. You bastards ruined it, just like you ruined Sanpellegrino and Lucozade.

Same applies, now I think about it, to all the other programmes on the BBC. I never watch anything on it for pleasure these days: only out of duty — to see what the enemy is thinking — and also so I can keep up to date my list of all the people I’m going to have exiled to bare rocks in the Outer Hebrides when I’m king. It’s the kindest thing. They can live on puffins and inbred Soay sheep and discover their inner selves.

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On a beach with no phone signal, I rediscovered the wonder of boredom


After an hour’s beach work I was just about done. I’d read some book, I’d skimmed the papers, I’d eaten some bits of cheese on some oat biscuits (the closest I’ll concede to picnics, which I hate), I’d drunk some water as per my instructions from the Fawn (‘Drink some water! You never drink enough water’), I’d dried off from the swim, I’d got a pair of very numb buttocks after sundry failed attempts to get comfy on the not very flat rock: surely I’d done enough now to earn my release.

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