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Hands up who takes Laurence Fox seriously | David Mitchell

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 04/10/2020 - 8:00pm in

Tattooing ‘Freedom’ and ‘Space’ on his fists will surely limit the actor’s roles, but is his new political party a plausible alternative?

When I’m being an actor, I am sometimes called upon to remove my wedding ring. It seems that I come across plausibly as unmarried. Somehow I can portray isolated and loveless figures without putting much strain on the audience’s suspension of disbelief. The trouble is that, when I do remove it, its clear imprint remains on my pudgy finger. So, from the wrist down, I don’t look like an unmarried man. I look like a tubby and faithless affair-seeker haunting the bar of a suburban Marriott.

This worries me because I wasn’t absolutely the most transformative of actors in the first place, so the last thing I need is the fatness and lack of plasticity of my fingers to halve the number of roles I’m in the running for. Under current economic conditions, I really need to be able to play the unattractive loner and the overweight, aspirant adulterer. Perhaps I should develop a sort of flesh-coloured adhesive putty to fill in the groove left by the ring. And, actually, if I got the recipe just right, maybe I could then market it to all the plump swordsmen out there, looking to pocket their promises alongside their wedding bands without having to put their fingers on a diet.

Anyone who claims that all the facts of British history are glorious is a dangerous, delusional nationalist

Dishonesty is the Second-Best Policy by David Mitchell (Guardian Faber Publishing, £9.99). To order a copy go to guardianbookshop.com. Delivery charges may apply.

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So an ancient TV set can bring down the mighty broadband? Good | David Mitchell

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 27/09/2020 - 7:00pm in

As one who resists technological change, I think we should defend the telly that took out a Welsh village’s internet

The mystery of the disappearing Welsh broadband has been solved. I don’t know what you’d expect the broadband signal to be like in the isolated village of Aberhosan in Powys. Personally, I’d expect it to be terrible. And it really was terrible. But it seems the villagers didn’t expect that. To them, this was a mystery.

My low expectations of data flow to rural areas will doubtless offend some. I apologise: it may be outdated but I mean it nicely. It’s not a slur on the countryside. Not being able to access the internet is a plus as far as I’m concerned. I look back fondly on the afternoon in 2009 on the Isle of Skye that I spent waving a Samsung flip phone around my head in the hope of it coinciding with a big enough blob of reception to get a text to send. I was significantly more likely to catch a flying splat of seagull shit. But the inconvenience makes you feel remote and, for me, that was the point of going there. Nowadays, I could probably get streaming HD. Which sounds like a disease. And maybe it is.

We don’t have to pretend to like things just because they’re inevitable

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Boris Johnson's 'oven-ready' Brexit had a secret footnote: we'll rehash it later | Fintan O'Toole

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 10/09/2020 - 11:18pm in

Suggesting Britain could sign the withdrawal agreement with its fingers crossed makes perfect sense for a government of liars

Everybody knows Boris Johnson can lie for England. To his supporters, it was one of his best assets. They believed he could bamboozle the European Union into giving him the only Brexit deal that is really acceptable – one that gives Britain all the advantages of being in the EU without any of the botheration of being a member. The problem is that congenital mendacity isn’t just for foreigners. If you lie for England, you will also lie to England.

This week, these two streams of fabrication finally became one. In openly admitting that it signed the withdrawal agreement with the EU in bad faith, Johnson’s Vote Leave government also implicitly confessed that it lied wholesale to the electorate in December’s general election. The cross-contamination of domestic politics by the deceit that is Brexit’s DNA is now complete.

Related: This Brexit bill finally buries the Conservative party of law and order | Martin Kettle

Related: Brexit bill criticised as 'eye-watering' breach of international law

Fintan O’Toole is a columnist with the Irish Times

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How do we 'build back better' after coronavirus? Close the income gap | Richard Wilkinson

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 26/08/2020 - 6:00pm in

Almost all problems in British society get worse when class differences increase – addressing this inequality must be a post-pandemic priority

The establishment of a free NHS in 1948 came just two days late for my fifth birthday. By the time I’d reached my twenties it was widely assumed to have eliminated health inequalities: almost no one knew whether life expectancy was longer at the top or bottom of the social ladder. Even doctors mistakenly believed “executive stress” was the biggest risk for heart attacks.

As a research student in the 1970s, my attention was drawn to official data showing not only that most of the major causes of death were two to three times more common among unskilled manual workers and their families than among professionals, but also that the gap in death rates had widened since the 1930s. Such large class differences in death rates came as a shock. Full of righteous indignation, I wrote a newspaper article addressed to the secretary of state for health, David Ennals, urging him to set up an urgent inquiry to address these issues.

Related: Coronavirus inquiry ‘could transform racial inequality in UK’

Related: Poverty kills people: after coronavirus we can no longer ignore it | Polly Toynbee

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The name's Bond. Second-best Bond | David Mitchell

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 16/08/2020 - 7:00pm in

In a world racked by disease, it’s lovely to debate which actor was almost as good as Sean Connery

The subject of who is the best James Bond is a difficult one on which to be interesting. As you’re about to find out. I really meant not to write about it but I couldn’t resist, simply because I find it so interesting. I reckon that’s probably why it’s tricky to be interesting about. Increasingly I think, when it comes to the risk of being boring, that’s the red flag: are you finding yourself interesting? If so, no one else is.

Bores are seldom themselves bored – they’re usually finding themselves fascinating, banging on about wiring, or gardening, or what people don’t understand about Charlemagne or who’s the best Bond. So, listening to a bore is like an offensive metaphor for global wealth inequality. The bores (representing the super-rich) droning on, becoming more and more interested, as everyone else gets more and more bored, until all of the world’s interestedness is in the possession of a tiny number of droning people, while the vast majority must scratch an existence in unremitting stultification.

George Lazenby, with the best will in the world, made it look like they’d accidentally rolled camera on the stand-in

Dishonesty is the Second-Best Policy by David Mitchell (Guardian Faber Publishing, £9.99). To order a copy go to guardianbookshop.com. Delivery charges may apply.

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Restaurant no-shows are people I can really sink my teeth into | David Mitchell

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 19/07/2020 - 7:00pm in

Being angry about those who fail to turn up for bookings is one of my few remaining pleasures

We’re all, in our various ways, working on the best system for the distribution of condemnation. Condemnation is all the rage thanks to all the rage and to the fact that, with the invention of social media, a method has been found for both automating and monetising it. There’s a consensus that a lot of people are bad, though it falls short of complete agreement on exactly who, so there’s a lot of condemning that obviously needs to get done.

Cancel culture is vital to filling our virally emptied days, when there’s nothing else to do because we’ve been forced, among other things, to cancel culture. There’ll be no ballet or theatre, or indeed nightclubs or parties, for the foreseeable, so it’s the perfect time to get ahead with sticking it to anyone who you reckon phobes something you phile or philes things in a way that’s wrong. And then you can regrout the loo.

The sacred purity of the tuts I'm uttering is as refreshing to my palate as the first sip of aperitif in a restaurant

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A royal conspiracy against John Bercow? Perhaps I'm imagining it | David Mitchell

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 07/06/2020 - 7:01pm in

There’s no hard evidence the Duchess of Cambridge wants to block the former Speaker’s peerage, but just look at her views on tights

Do Jacob Rees-Mogg and the Duchess of Cambridge think John Bercow should get a peerage I wonder? Individually, I mean. I’m not expecting the two of them to have an agreed line. I doubt they’ve even discussed it. I have no idea what they talk about, if I’m being totally honest. In fact, have they actually met? Well, I imagine so. In fact, I’m imagining so now.

“So, Your Royal Highness, do you think that the former Speaker of the House of Commons should be granted a peerage?”

There's something about someone exclaiming: 'That's pure horseshit' that can make you think again

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Cummings’ contempt for lockdown rules makes the public feel like fools | Fintan O’Toole

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 26/05/2020 - 7:03pm in

The Catholic church in Ireland lost power by flouting the morals it prescribed. The Tory government risks a similar fate

It is not news that Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings treat rules with contempt. But there is one rule even they might be expected to obey, because it is crucial to the maintenance of power. Never, ever, make the people who place their faith in you feel like fools.

Or, to put it another way, never let the people who think they are making a sacrifice realise that in fact they are the sacrifice. Before breaking this rule so flagrantly, Johnson and his consigliere would have done well to consider the fate of what used to be one of the most powerful institutions on these islands: the Irish Catholic church.

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Why coronavirus might just create a more equal society in Britain | Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 04/05/2020 - 8:00pm in

Since the 1980s, inequality has risen. But the pandemic has forced the government to put wellbeing before growth

For those who are cooped up in a flat at the moment with a baby and no garden, worrying about getting the government’s 80% income replacement after losing your job, the lockdown must be almost intolerable. Then there is the rise in people needing food banks and in cases of domestic violence – both predictable results of lockdown. For those working at home with a secure income and a garden, it is much easier.

Governments, careless of the contrasts between rich and poor, always want us to believe “we are all in this together”. In the wake of the 2007-8 financial crisis we didn’t buy it: we remained strongly aware of divided interests and circumstances. However, this time, despite the stark differences in people’s experience, there is a strong feeling that we really are in it together. As with other great challenges, most notably the second world war, the present crisis has given rise to more neighbourliness, sociability and a desire to take care of each other.

Related: Are female leaders more successful at managing the coronavirus crisis?

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Golden toilets, golden arches. As for David Cameron... | David Mitchell

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 22/09/2019 - 7:00pm in

Like the thieves who stole the glittering khazi, our memoir-hawking former prime minister seems to have got off scot-free

Like most people, I enjoyed the news of the theft of that gold toilet. I’m glad the gold toilet exists (or existed) and I’m glad it was stolen. After all, if it hadn’t been stolen, I probably wouldn’t know it exists. I’m also glad it was stolen from Blenheim Palace, that colossally vulgar stately home, because it’s exactly the kind of place you imagine might have gold toilets.

It only slightly spoils it that it doesn’t. The loos at Blenheim are, as far as I know, made from conventional materials. The gold loo, as well as being a loo, is a work of conceptual art and was part of an exhibition of other works of art that weren’t also loos, or also gold. So the gold loo wasn’t already there. Winston Churchill never s(h)at on it, though he was born just across the hall. On a non-gold bed, I regret to say.

I hope whoever stole the golden loo gets away with it. It just seems fun, like an Ealing comedy

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