It would be weird if Gove hadn’t taken drugs

Cocaine is an abominable drug, by far the most hateful of all the various uppers and downers and psychoactives because it turns you into such a complete moron.

The problem with coke, as my friend, the drug historian Mike Jay, once explained to me, is that nature never intended us to use it the way we do. In its raw, coca leaf form, it’s a handy and pleasant stimulant, just what you need to keep you going on a long trek over the Andes. But in its refined form it’s just nasty, not least because it plays a cruel, built-in trick on you. You take cocaine to get high — and sure it helps, up to a point. What it really stimulates, though, aren’t the pleasure receptors but the impulsive part of your brain that makes you want more and more of something.

Read the rest in the Spectator.

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Blast from the past

Accidental hero: one of the Chernobyl liquidators
Accidental hero: one of the Chernobyl liquidators

How many people do you think died at Chernobyl? 10,000? 50,000? 300,000? The correct answer, according to the never knowingly understated World Health Organisation — in a thorough report released nearly 20 years after the 1986 explosion — was ‘fewer than 50’.

Ah, but what about all the mutant babies who ended up with two heads and webbed feet? What about the inevitable epidemic of cancers? Well, yes, it’s true that 4,000 more cases of thyroid cancer were loosely attributable to Chernobyl, mainly in children and adolescents. But the survival rate was 99 per cent.

Read the rest in the Spectator.

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My medical treatment is sending me bonkers – and it’s no fun

If I’ve been incredibly rude to you or snappy or tearful lately, if I’ve taken offence where none was intended, or I’ve wildly overreacted to something you said on social media, I do apologise. It wasn’t the real me you experienced in those moments: it was the mad brain that sometimes seizes control of me.

The reason I have these episodes — as I keep having to explain to my bemused victims, after the event — is that I’m currently undergoing intensive medical treatment which gives me these weird and powerful mood swings. Known as the Perrin Technique, the treatment — which involves regular massage of the limbic system — has been very successful at dealing with conditions including chronic fatigue syndrome and even, I hope, Lyme disease. Because the limbic system controls your emotions the side effects, as in my case, can be bizarre beyond belief.

Read the rest in the Spectator.

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Sunday night on the Beeb was an orgy of virtue-signalling

Plus: why a cultish New Zealand horror-comedy fly-on-the-wall mockumentary about vampire housemates is worth your time.

Lusty, roistering Suranne Jones as Anne Lister in Gentleman Jack. Image: BBC / Lookout Point / Jay Brooks
Lusty, roistering Suranne Jones as Anne Lister in Gentleman Jack. Image: BBC / Lookout Point / Jay Brooks

After its new costume drama You Go, Girl! (Sundays) about how amazing, empowered and better-than-men women are, especially if they are lesbians, the BBC ran its first ever Nike ad. At least that’s what I thought initially: rap music, moody shots of athletes, very high production values. Then I saw they were all grim-faced women and the word ‘RISE’ in flames and I thought: ‘Big new drama series? About girls who’ve been sucked into this very strict Christian cult, a bit like the Handmaid’s Tale, maybe?’ Then I noticed they were all wearing football kit and kicking balls around, and went back to my original Nike idea. Finally came the big reveal. It said: ‘#CHANGE THE GAME. FIFA WOMEN’S WORLD CUP 2019.’

Read the rest in the Spectator.

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Game of Thrones: the final episode reviewed

Game of Thrones could not have ended any other way, says James Delingpole

Happiness writes white.” Henry de Montherlant

My least favourite part of Peter Jackson’s magisterial Lord of the Rings trilogy is the half hour of toecurling mawkishness at the end where you have to endure all the surviving characters getting married and living happily ever after. Game of Thrones was inevitably going to have a similar problem. After 70 episodes of intrigue, rape, incest, massacres, betrayal, quests, duels, epic battles, existential struggles with the forces of the undead, the healing – and sometimes clunky and twee –  resolutions in the 71st were always going to be a bit of an anticlimax.

But how could it be otherwise?

That’s why I’m going to disagree quite strongly with all those critics who are dissing the series finale as the most embarrassingly lame thing ever.

Read the rest in the Spectator.

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Gratitude lessons show Eton is losing its way

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‘Repeat after me, gentlemen: “Thank you for not letting me into your Oxbridge college because I belong to the wrong social class and I have been too well taught.’’’

I do hope they include this catechism in the new ‘gratitude’ lessons that they’re about to introduce at Eton. They should do because it’s true. Across the country, private school parents who have scrimped and saved about £40,000 a year for fees are increasingly finding that their sacrifice is being rewarded by near-automatic Oxbridge rejection for their blameless offspring.

And who is speaking out against this class war-driven injustice? Almost no one.

Read the rest in the Spectator.

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Gloriously un-PC: Chris Lilley’s Swiftian, scabrous, gleefully misanthropic Lunatics reviewed

Chris Lilley as Quentin, the real-estate agent with an improbably huge arse who dreams of becoming a famous DJ
Chris Lilley as Quentin, the real-estate agent with an improbably huge arse who dreams of becoming a famous DJ

‘Unfunny, boring and utterly unrelenting,’ says the Guardian’s one-star review of Chris Lilley’s new sketch series Lunatics (Netflix). And if that’s not incentive enough, our woke critical chum goes on to declare the series ‘problematic’. That’s a weaselly way of saying ‘this triggered all my snowflake sensitivities’ but in such a way as to make it sound like a loftily objective judgment.

In truth, Lunatics is only problematic if a) you have no sense of humour and b) you’d prefer all comedy to be politically correct, inoffensive and utterly devoid of satirical edge.

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The savagery and death lurking within our beautiful countryside

The cuckoo – not as nice as the RSPB would have you believe (istockphoto.com)

This is the time of year when the English countryside reaches peak incredible: when we rural folk mentally pinch ourselves in disbelief at our extraordinary good fortune in inhabiting the most beautiful landscape on earth.On every walk you see something to delight the eye and lift the spirits. First the blackthorn exploding in the hedgerows like cascading white fireworks; then the ramsons pushing their lance-shaped leaves through the floor of the dingle, pleading with you to turn them into wild garlic pesto; then the lambs — so wobbly, white and cute when newborn — which turn surprisingly quickly into boisterous adolescents gambolling and head-butting and racing one another in circles; then the bluebells, a strange and precious wonder because where else anywhere in nature do you encounter that amazing anomalous blue in such profligate quantities?

Read the rest in the Spectator.

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Game of Thrones: Episode 3 reviewed

James Delingpole unpacks the battle we’ve all been waiting for.

Something truly remarkable happened in Game of Thrones Season 8, Episode 3: the massed armies of the undead besieged Winterfell, destroyed the most diverse, brave and fearsome fighting force ever assembled in the history of the Seven Kingdoms, swarmed over the castle walls, wiped out the garrison, then were joined by even more undead risen from the bodies of all the goodies they’d recently killed and began slaughtering whoever was left…Yet, when the mist and smoke cleared, you’ll never guess what: every single major character was still alive.

What are the chances, eh? Just to be sure I made some rough calculations of the various groups’ survival outcomes. Dothraki horde: 0 per cent; Unsullied: 0.01 per cent (assuming Grey Worm is still with us; it was hard to tell for reasons I’ll shortly explain); Armies of the North 0.02 per cent; likeable, long-running but expendable characters 50 per cent; womenfolk and kids trapped in crypt: 75 per cent. Starks, Lanisters, Targaryens: 100 per cent. A miracle, I tell you, a miracle!

Read the rest in the Spectator.

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Why has Frankie Boyle gone so soft?

Frankie Boyle's New World Order, on which the comic is paid to say the totally and predictably sayable. Image: BBC/ Endemol Shine UK/ Brian J Ritchie
https://www.spectator.co.uk/2019/04/why-has-frankie-boyle-gone-so-soft/

The Glaswegian faux-thug now makes his living not by pushing boundaries but by enforcing their limits.

‘I spend a lot of time helping teenagers who’ve been sexually abused…’ — beat — ‘…find their way out of my house.’

You’d scarcely imagine, listening to Frankie Boyle now, that this was the kind of joke he was telling on TV as recently as this decade. I wouldn’t believe it myself if I didn’t have written evidence of it, in the form of a 2011 TV review of his now-forgotten shocker of a Channel 4 show, Tramadol Nights.

Read the rest in the Spectator.

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