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The Guardian e-paper Journal - May 16, 2018

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Section:GDN 1J PaGe:1 Edition Date:180516 Edition:01 Zone:
Sent at 15/5/2018 17:52
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Putting a price on nature only hastens its destruction George Monbiot, page 4
In Ghana I saw why we need royal weddings Afua Hirsch, page 5
If Danes drive out wolves, will migrants be next? Dorthe Nors, Europe Now, page 11
The Guardian Wednesday 16 May 2018
Opinion
and ideas
The message is
loud and clear people do want
fat cats stopped
Polly
Toynbee
N
o press,? said the PR barring my way.
That?s the first time I?ve been turned
away from a company AGM, but why
am I not surprised? This is Melrose,
the great predator that ate up GKN in
an �n hostile takeover ? financial
engineers swallowing up Britain?s
third-largest actual engineering
company ? before carving it up and selling it off.
I go to company AGMs to stare at masters of the
universe paying themselves eye-watering, breathtaking
sums. In the one day a year on which they are on public
display, I seek a glimmer of shame, any blush or blench.
But when some eccentric shareholder questions the
size of their swag these masters never bat an eyelid,
unabashed in their brazen effrontery. Will the day ever
come when Britain looks back in incredulity at such
shameless fatcats?
I wanted to eyeball Christopher Miller, the executive
chairman, who will receive a bonus of more than �m,
along with three henchmen on similar rates. Pensions
& Investment Research Consultants, an independent
watchdog against bad governance, had warned
shareholders to oppose Miller?s bonus. I wasn?t there
to watch the vote, but a Melrose press release popped
up announcing the board?s remuneration was agreed,
with no word of the mini-revolt by 22% of shareholders.
Similar ripples of shareholder protest against megaremuneration greeted last week?s AGMs at Serco,
Rathbones and Direct Line ? but all were shrugged off.
Odds are that planned objections next week to Shell?s
?9m (�9m) for a CEO whose company share prices fell
this year will fizzle out too. For the victors, why let one
day?s mild embarrassment spoil their plunder? Besides,
someone else is always greedier: look at Persimmon?s
chief executive, taking �m despite an outcry.
FTSE 100 CEOs pay themselves more than 120 times as
much as an average UK worker ? a gap that has widened
by two-thirds in the past 20 years, says Luke Hildyard
of the High Pay Centre. This week the Sunday Times
Rich List revealed their wealth rose by 10% last year.
How unruffled they will be by last weekend?s TUC rally
demanding a ?new deal? on pay. A decade on from the
financial crisis, real wages are still worth � a week less
than in 2008, and are not expected to return to pre-crash
levels until 2025, an unprecedented 17-year decline. The
TUC general secretary Frances O?Grady?s rousing speech
protested against ?bumper dividends?
while wages are cut. ?You can?t fill your
boots in the boardroom and tell workers to
ILLUSTRATION BY
NATHALIE LEES
Section:GDN 1J PaGe:2 Edition Date:180516 Edition:01 Zone:
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The Guardian Wednesday 16 May 2018
2
The message is loud and clear ?
people do want fat cats stopped
Polly Toynbee
Continued from front
tighten their belts. The greed has to stop.?
But there is no sign of that. You will look
in vain for any remotely revolutionary
impulse ? beyond the Brexit convulsion orchestrated by
Tory multimillionaires and their press ?爄ncluding that
voice of the people, the Daily Mail?s Paul Dacre, with his
Scottish deer-stalking estate and Sussex cattle farm.
The strategy consultancy Britain Thinks has just
taken the pulse of public attitudes towards business,
and warns of a reputational problem: most people are
disgusted by obscene executive pay, by the billions
avoided in tax, and by bad treatment of employees on
zero-hours contracts and abysmal pay. Big business is
viewed as ruthlessly cut-throat.
Politically, all this should benefit Labour, with the
public mood in tune with its manifesto policies. When
tested blind, those policies are highly popular ? 61% are
in favour of a � an hour minimum wage, with sizeable
majorities for stronger worker rights and tax rises for the
top 5% (those earning over �,000). Renationalising
water, rail and postal services are popular too.
But here?s the catch: when told that all these are
Labour policies, people back off sharply. How will they
pay for it and will Labour rock the boat? Preconceptions
about Labour?s incompetence at running the economy
outweigh their disgust with big business. People still say
(yes, outrageously) that the Tories rescued the economy
from Labour mismanagement. Despite revulsion at
executive avarice, only 39% back the 20:1 maximum pay
ratio Labour advocates, and only a meagre 26% support
raising corporation tax from its present much-reduced
19% back up to 26%.
T
hey warm to Labour as the nice party,
?fair? and ?genuine? ? while they see
Tories as elitists ?out for themselves?
and for the rich. But they think those
Tory nasty qualities are needed
to support business, on which the
economy depends: after all, four out of
five voters are employed by the private
sector. All in all, those surveyed give the Tories a 9%
lead as the best party to run the economy (and therefore
the country) ? a trend found in poll after poll.
That?s what Labour has to overcome, as ever against a
hostile media tide. Remember how hard Tony Blair and
Gordon Brown struggled to convince voters, locking
themselves into a deadly two-year public spending
freeze, glued to Tory spending plans, vowing eternal
fiscal prudence. But even then, they only managed to
neutralise Labour?s permanently negative economic
reputation thanks to John Major?s exchange rate
mechanism fiasco.
Our corrupt political system helps business to buy
elections to protect their loot: of the 50 richest UK
political donors, only one gives to Labour. The shadow
chancellor, John McDonnell, is on a business charm
offensive, the same ?prawn cocktail? circuit chased
by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown pre-1997, but he can
never realistically expect to sway these arch Tories.
Nor燿oes that matter much. It?s ordinary voters who
need persuading.
Abusing plutocrats is political fun. Jon Trickett, the
shadow Cabinet Office minister, was venting at them
last week: ?Labour will overturn the rigged economy
and bring to a shuddering halt the obscene power of
the few thousand-strong super-elite.? Good, say I! Class
war! riposted the Mail. But when Trickett averred,
?People have had enough of the elite pinching wealth
from the pockets of working people,? the trouble is that
they haven?t really, or not enough of them. There?s no
better time to contemplate Britain?s non-revolutionary
instincts than observing this Saturday?s royal wedding
gush. That?s a sharp reminder that 80% of people
don?t think (as I do) that the monarchy symbolises and
sanctifies Trickett?s ?warped system in which a superrich elite runs rings round everyone else?.
The Britain Thinks focus groups finds that Labour
is struggling to capitalise on what is genuine public
indignation at corporate greed. Language matters
? and燣abour hasn?t yet found the right words to
convince爒oters it can run an economy that is both
competent and fair.
Founded 1821 Independently owned by the Scott Trust ? 53,410
?Comment is free? but facts are sacred? CP Scott
Brexit and devolution
Holyrood?s vote highlights
the case for federal thinking
Britain?s Brexit argument began life as a dispute
between remaining in the European Union and leaving
it. After爐he vote to leave in 2016, that original dispute
has gradually been overlaid by the battle between a
hard and soft Brexit. The House of Lords debates on the
EU withdrawal bill, which have significantly softened
the bill, and which come to an end today, can best be
understood in that hard/soft context. When the bill
returns to the Commons (Conservative factions are still
squabbling over the terms) the arguments will continue
along this same hard/soft axis.
However, hard/soft is not the only axis. In the
devolved nations there is a different issue. This asks
which should have the final word on Brexit: Westminster
or the devolved governments ? and in what combination?
The answers differ in each devolved country. Though
Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU, its unionist
leaders have backed Theresa May for a hard Brexit.
After爄nitial objections to Mrs May?s centralist approach,
the Welsh government won concessions that were
reflected in a government climbdown; it has now struck
a deal. The Scots, however, said those were insufficient,
so dispute still rages unresolved there. Yesterday the
Scottish parliament voted overwhelmingly to reject the
Brexit bill altogether, with the Conservatives dissenting.
This issue typically gets too little attention in England.
Even a lot of Scots are relatively unmoved by what can
Carillion
A failure waiting to happen
Carillion?s sudden rise and its spectacular collapse is
a story of greedy recklessness shrouded in corporate
deception. As two select committees point out in a joint
report today its business model was a ?relentless dash
for cash, driven by acquisitions, rising debt, expansion
into new markets and exploitation of suppliers?.
This燿isaster capitalism was enabled by dodgy
accounts and executive avarice. In the end Carillion,
which held �bn of government contracts, was
unviable. In retrospect the surprise was not that it
went under but that it lasted so long. The public is left
holding the bill: 2,000 have lost their jobs; 27,000 current
and former employees will get smaller pensions; and
�0m of government cash has been spent to prop up
essential燾ontracts.
The two Labour chairs ? Frank Field and Rachel Reeves
? have done everyone a service in exposing the scale of
the tragedy; and they should also be congratulated for
pointing the finger of blame. First at Carillion?s board,
who are culpable for the bankruptcy and responsible for
Royal wedding
Give the Markles a break
For good and ill, royal weddings will never be everyday
events. Normal privacy rules do not easily apply to
princes. Yet the public?s interest in Saturday?s Windsor
wedding is not a blank cheque for abuse of privacy and
judgment. It should not be used to justify each and every
media intrusion, whoever the instigator, into what is
properly a private as well as a public event.
For some parts of the media, it has nevertheless been
open season on Meghan Markle?s family ever since the
marriage was announced. In some cases, both sides have
be a dry dispute. Yet the argument ought to matter to
all who care about the functioning of the UK. At stake
are essential issues about the working of a devolved
state, or even in time a federal one. The question of
who decides about issues that were previously EU
competences ? such as GM crops, fishing quotas, state
aid to industries, data protection, energy labelling
and internet security ? matters. So,爐hough, do the
mechanisms for resolving disputes and striking
compromises with which all can live. The燯K爄s not so
practised at that. This summer the UK supreme court
is likely to decide some rules.
Both sides in the Scottish divide have arguments
that should be respected. The SNP government leads
a country that voted strongly to remain. It is right
to fight its pro-European corner. But Westminster is
also right to be concerned about protecting the UK
single market from too much internal protectionism.
The Brexit outcome must be harmonious with the
devolution settlement, and not disruptive to either
devolution or to the single market within the UK.
Almost inevitably, these arguments are saturated
with party politics. The SNP wants a confrontation
that puts Scottish separatism back on the agenda.
Labour and the Lib Dems, who both backed the SNP
yesterday, want to compromise, but cannot risk
being manoeuvred into alliance with the Tories.
Ultimately, the current row reflects the SNP?s
separatist yearnings, Mrs May?s fear of concessions
that would split her party, and the other parties? fear
of being squeezed. In the short term, however, give
and take will be needed. In the long term, Britain
needs a devolved politics which, as in countries like
Germany and Canada, allows standoffs of this kind to
be resolved by rules of law as well as by raw politics.
the rotten corporate culture. Executives in charge
should be disqualified from corporate life. Who
allowed these people to use aggressive accounting
policies to present a rosy picture to the rest of the
world? Step forward the professionals who preferred
to rubber-stamp accounts rather than audit them.
Big accountancy too often works for itself but fails
the wider economy. MPs are right to call for the audit
sector to be referred to the competition regulator,
with the option to break up the largest firms. MPs
also correctly identified the systemic weakness of
light-touch regulation. When essential services
are outsourced, the public sector?s function shifts
to commissioning contracts and managing them.
If regulation is ineffective then it is surely time to
reconsider the benefits of outsourcing.
Carillion?s fall reveals the inadequacy of corporate
oversight. It is no way to run the state. The company
easily evaded toothless watchdogs and crown
representatives that ?served no noticeable purpose
in alerting the government? to the unfolding crisis.
Theresa May once claimed her ?mission? was to
?make this a country that works for everyone?.
However, she has balked at taking tough measures
to deal with corporate malfeasance. Parliament is
showing her how to turn rhetoric into reality.
been to blame. The bride?s father, Thomas Markle,
has been under special pressure in this process.
Ultimately, though, the relationship between him and
the media is entirely one-sided. Media are exploiting
him, not the other way around. This should stop.
The disjunction between media exploitation of the
Markle family and the government?s wish to close
the file on the Leveson inquiry is inescapably jarring.
Sensible media would have seen the problem coming
and tempered their actions. That hasn?t happened.
Instead, some media have given in to their own worst
instincts, seemingly unconcerned that public opinion
is likely to be compassionate to the families. It all
sends a terrible message to the public about media
ethics. It is not too late to give the Markle family, and
Mr Markle in particular, a break they all deserve.
Section:GDN 1J PaGe:3 Edition Date:180516 Edition:01 Zone:
Wednesday 16 May 2018 The Guardian
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Opinion
3
He makes no
e?ort to
understand the
Palestinians? current
proposals for peace,
let alone the history
of the con?ict
There is a cost
to Trump. We
are seeing it
now in Gaza
Jonathan
Steele
I
magine the outrage western governments would
express if terrorists were to kill more than 50
Israelis on the streets of Tel Aviv in a single
day. Yet when it comes to the killing that Israeli
forces carried out on Monday at the gates of
Gaza ? and have been doing for the past several
weeks ? the silence from most western ministers
is deafening. Worse still, there are attempts to
justify the deaths as legitimate self-defence.
The Israeli government argues that the crowds of
mostly young Palestinians at the Gaza fence offer a lethal
threat to peaceful Israelis. The claim is as ludicrous as it
is cynical. Even if one or two protesters broke through
the fence they would have nowhere to go except into
the arms of the Israeli security forces, who could easily
detain them. The Palestinian interlopers have no allies
on the Israeli side of the fence, nor any transport to
take them to populated parts of Israel. Nor are they
armed. It is clear from video footage that they have no
suicide belts round their waists, or guns in their hands.
Occasional stones were the only weapons.
Normal police methods of arrest and trial would
be perfectly adequate to handle the issue. Yet
instead, Israeli snipers used live ammunition against
demonstrators, wounding thousands in the legs but also
killing dozens.
In spite of the outrage from international human
rights groups on Monday, matched by a few courageous
Israeli groups also, there was no sign yesterday that
Israeli commanders had given their troops any new rules
of engagement. With tensions raised as the funerals of
victims got under way, the risk of new deaths remained
high. A chief cause of the protests is the misery and
despair created by 11 years of blockade that the people of
Gaza have had to suffer ? because they had the temerity
to vote in a Hamas government in 2006.
Egypt shares some of the blame for the collective
punishment inflicted on Gazans. So too does the
Palestinian authority, which held back the payment of
civil servants? salaries in Gaza. But the lion?s share of the
blame rests with Israel, which initiated and orchestrated
the embargo and has repeatedly refused to end or even
relax it significantly.
Offers by Hamas to declare a ceasefire or truce with
Israel in return for an end to the embargo have been
Israeli soldiers on
the border of the
Gaza Strip
PHOTOGRAPH:
AMIR燙OHEN/REUTERS
spurned. The result is the hopelessness that encourages
young Palestinians to risk their lives at the border fence.
Hamas certainly encourages the protests, seeking
to highlight Israeli intransigence and cruelty; but to
dismiss爐he young demonstrators as though they were
robots being manipulated to act as ?Hamas?s human
shields? ? as official Israeli spokespeople do ? is to
minimise the genuine frustration and agony that
many燝azans feel.
The second deep cause for the protests is history.
Palestinians see themselves as a sending a reminder
to the world that Israel?s foundation 70 years ago
involved the deliberate ethnic cleansing of hundreds
of thousands of Palestinians. Their demands for
compensation or restitution have been routinely
ignored for decades. Palestinians are struggling to keep
the unresolved issue from fading from view.
This week?s carnage in Gaza is not directly linked
to the US president?s provocative decision to transfer
the US embassy to Jerusalem and recognise the city as
Israel?s capital. But this move has added to the anger
and frustration. Under previous US administrations,
official policy on all aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian
dispute has always燽een skewed overwhelmingly
towards the Israeli government. Few Palestinians have
been naive enough to see Washington as an honest
broker. But most US presidents have at least tried to
restrain the violence and seek political compromises.
This remains true for any of the variants of the two-state
solution that have been put on the table.
D
?
Jonathan Steele
is a former
chief foreign
correspondent of
the Guardian
onald Trump is different from his
predecessors. He makes no effort
to understand the Palestinians?
current proposals for peace, let
alone the history of the conflict.
Choosing to move the US embassy
to Jerusalem on the very day Israelis
marked their state?s anniversary
while Palestinians mourned their Nakba (?catastrophe?)
showed insensitivity at best. At worst it was a deliberate
provocation, denying to the Palestinians all pretence
of US even-handedness. But then, of course, Trump
has form. He has shown that blend of ignorance and
arrogance which is the hallmark of many would-be
aspirants to the highest office in the United States, and
which some who get elected never overcome.
On the nuclear deal with Iran, he took action without
considering the consequences. He did not listen to
those燼llies who had negotiated for years with the
Iranians. He also chose to ignore the findings of the
International Atomic Energy Agency that Iran was not
violating any of the nuclear deal?s terms. Trump failed
to explain why tearing it up was better than having a
less-than-perfect deal.
No two issues in the Middle East are more tense than
Israel?s dispute with the Palestinians and the west?s
dispute with Iran. They require careful analysis of each
side?s legitimate aspirations as well as grievances, and
mature discussion and compromise to find solutions.
Trump failed to consult the scores of experts from
his own country or from the Middle East who had
warned him that jumping to endorse the current Israeli
government?s ambitions for Jerusalem ? also held by
its settler constituency ? would destroy any chance of
successful negotiations in the future. Instead, Trump
thinks he can simply tell the Palestinians ?you?re fired?
and they will meekly go away.
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4
The Guardian Wednesday 16 May 2018
Opinion
Putting a price
on nature will
only speed its
destruction
George
Monbiot
N
ever mind that the new
environmental watchdog will
have no teeth. Never mind that
the government plans to remove
protection from local wildlife
sites. Never mind that its 25-year
environment plan is all talk and
no action. We don?t need rules any
more. We have a pouch of magic powder we can sprinkle
on any problem to make it disappear.
This powder is the monetary valuation of the natural
world. Through the market, we can avoid conflict and
hard choices, laws and policies, by replacing political
decisions with economic calculations.
Almost all official documents on environmental
issues are now peppered with references to ?natural
capital? and to the Natural Capital Committee, the
Laputian body the government has created to price
the living world and develop a set of ?national natural
capital accounts?. The government admits that ?at
present we cannot robustly value everything we
wish to in economic terms; wildlife being a particular
challenge?. Hopefully, such gaps can soon be filled, so
we?ll know exactly how much a primrose is worth.
The government argues that without a price,
the living world is accorded no value, so irrational
decisions are made. By costing nature, you ensure
that it commands the investment and protection that
Deer roam through bluebells in Micheldever wood,
Hampshire PHOTOGRAPH: VICTORIA JONES/PA
It?s not just
Hugh Grant
who?s dumped
romcoms
other forms of capital attract. This thinking is based on a
series of extraordinary misconceptions. Even the name
reveals a confusion: natural capital is a contradiction
in terms. Capital is properly understood as the humanmade segment of wealth that is deployed in production
to create further financial returns. Concepts such as
natural capital, human capital or social capital can be
used as metaphors or analogies, though even these are
misleading. But the 25-year plan defines natural capital
as ?the air, water, soil and ecosystems that support all
forms of life?. In other words, nature is capital. In reality,
natural wealth and human-made capital are neither
comparable nor interchangeable. If the soil is washed off
the land, we cannot grow crops on a bed of derivatives.
A similar fallacy applies to price. Unless something is
redeemable for money, a pound or dollar sign placed in
front of it is senseless: price represents an expectation of
payment, in accordance with market rates. In pricing a
river, a landscape or an ecosystem, either you are lining
it up for sale, in which case the exercise is sinister, or you
are not, in which case it is meaningless.
Still more deluded is the expectation that we can
defend the living world through the mindset that?s
destroying it. The notions that nature exists to serve
us; that its value consists of the instrumental benefits
we can extract; that this value can be measured in cash
terms; and that what can?t be measured does not matter,
have proved lethal to the rest of life on Earth.
The natural capital agenda reinforces the notion
that nature has no value unless you can extract cash
from it. Dieter Helm, who chairs the government?s
preposterous committee, makes this point explicit: the
idea that nature has intrinsic value, independent of what
humans can take from it, he says, is ?dangerous?. But
this dangerous idea has been the motivating force of all
successful environmental campaigns.
The natural capital agenda, its defenders say, is
?an additional weapon in the fight to protect the
countryside?. But it does not add, it subtracts. As the
philosopher Michael Sandel argues in What Money
Can?t Buy, market values crowd out non-market
values. Markets change the meaning of the things we
discuss, replacing moral obligations with commercial
relationships. This corrupts and degrades our intrinsic
values and empties public life of moral argument.
Natalie
Haynes
A
I
t is also, his examples show, counterproductive:
financial incentives undermine our motivation
to act for the public good. ?Altruism, generosity,
solidarity and civic spirit are ? like muscles that
develop and grow stronger with exercise. One of
the defects of the market-driven society is it lets
these virtues languish.? So who will resist this
parched, destructive mindset? Not, it seems, the
big conservation groups. Tony Juniper ? who in other
respects is an admirable defender of the living world
? says he will use his new post as head of campaigns at
WWF to promote the natural capital agenda.
Perhaps he is unaware that in 2014 WWF
commissioned research to test this approach. It showed
that when people were reminded of the intrinsic value of
nature, they were more likely to defend the living planet
and support WWF?than when they were exposed to
financial arguments. It also discovered that using both
arguments together produced the same result as just the
financial one: the natural capital agenda undermined
people?s intrinsic motivation.
Has this been forgotten? Sometimes I wonder whether
anything is learned in conservation, or whether the big
NGOs are for ever destined to follow a circular track,
endlessly repeating their mistakes.
The natural capital agenda is the definitive expression
of our disengagement from the living world. First we
lose our wildlife and natural wonders. Then we lose our
connections with what remains of life on Earth. Then
we lose the words that described what we once knew.
Then we call it capital and give it a price. This approach
is morally wrong, intellectually vacuous, emotionally
alienating and self-defeating.
Those of us who are motivated by love for the
living planet should not hesitate to say so. Never
underestimate the power of intrinsic values. They
inspire every struggle for a better world.
?
Natalie Haynes
is a writer,
broadcaster and
comedian
t the grand old age of 57, Hugh Grant
has announced that he is done with
romcoms. More interesting roles are
coming his way, apparently. As they
should: I would have cheerfully
given him an Oscar for Paddington
2, in which he plays a far cleverer
and more engrossing villain than
Sam Rockwell?s turn in Three Billboards Outside
Ebbing, Missouri. But it seems a shame to abandon
the whole genre of romantic comedy, in which Grant
has been a staple since he first swore his way into our
hearts in Four Weddings and a Funeral in 1994.
Or maybe romcoms have abandoned him, and all
of us who have grown bored of them in recent years.
Actors wanting the acclaim of awards often shy
away爁rom comedies, although that wasn?t always the
case. In 1950 Judy Holliday beat Bette Davis, Anne
Baxter and Gloria Swanson to the best actress Oscar
for爃er role as the helium-voiced gangster?s moll in
Born Yesterday.
It has been a while since a romcom performance
earned anyone an Oscar: Jennifer Lawrence managed
it in 2012 for Silver Linings Playbook. But that isn?t
a straight-up romcom. It is actually rather serious,
examining mental health issues as two broken souls
try to find their way to happiness. But that would also
be a reasonable description of When Harry Met Sally
(no one who orders food the way Sally does is without
problems. And I write as someone who won?t drink
opaque drinks, or from opaque containers). And the
gag rate in the latter is breathtaking, quite aside from
the performances. Nora Ephron wasn?t aiming for
realism, she was aiming for laughs.
Perhaps the problem, as Peter O?Toole succinctly put
it in My Favourite Year, is that dying is easy; comedy
is hard. Although last year?s romcom hit, The Big Sick,
managed to tick both boxes and get laughs out of a
coma. Based on the true story of its screenwriters ? a
comedian and his girlfriend who becomes ill ? the
movie breaks and warms your heart in equal measure.
Realistic romcoms (like realistic superhero films)
may sound like a contradiction in terms, but there
is something to be said for allowing the darkness of
life on to the screen. Quite aside from anything else,
it buys you some leeway with your audience: funny
characters are hard to write. It helps if you can cite reallife inspiration and sadness. It can add texture and save
you from schmaltz.
Maybe romcoms will have to raise their game if they
can?t rely on the box-office draw of stars such as Hugh
Grant any more without having to worry too much
about the script. But comedies used to be faster-paced
and have a 90-minute running time to match; that?s
rare after Knocked Up and Bridesmaids ? both over two
hours long ? set the trend. No amount of realism would
make me laugh more than a return to crisp editing and
sharp one-liners.
Section:GDN 1J PaGe:5 Edition Date:180516 Edition:01 Zone:
Wednesday 16 May 2018 The Guardian
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5
In Ghana I saw
why we need
royal weddings
Afua
Hirsch
P
rince Harry is marrying Meghan Markle
this week, and it presents me with a
dilemma. I am no royalist. The British
royal family has been synonymous
with empire ? the devastating effects
of which we have barely begun to
process ? and the slave trade, in which
monarchs all the way back to Elizabeth
I personally invested. The royal family has never
acknowledged, let alone apologised for, this past.
One of the most painful aspects of Britain?s colonial
legacy is that families like mine, who once lived
in Kumasi, the Asante capital in west Africa, saw
centuries of heritage, literature and art obliterated and
looted by British soldiers and mercenaries. The trauma
of these memories is compounded by the fact that the
British monarchy was not only involved in, but actually
enjoyed, these ?adventures?.
Yet it is because of the co-option of countries such as
Ghana into the global economy, on Britain?s terms, that
I exist. My family was educated in Britain because of the
empire, and as a descendant of that dual heritage I have
two cultural traditions. And given my interest in identity,
I can very easily relate to the love so many have for the
monarchy. People are searching for a heritage that has
content and history, tradition and faith. These things are
not rational; they are emotional, and they go deep.
When in 2002 my mum watched the funeral of the
Queen Mother, for whom she felt a fond affection, one
detail moved her more than anything else. The Queen
Mother?s four grandsons ? Princes Charles, Andrew and
Edward, and Viscount Linley ? stood vigil by her coffin,
illuminated by candlelight, their heads bowed and
swords reversed. For my mother it closely resembled the
funeral of her own grandmother, in the Ghanaian village
of Nsawem. My great-grandmother was a huge figure not
just for her descendants, but for the wider community.
As she lay in state in the house that she built ? which still
stands in Nsawem today ? men in ceremonial dress also
stood vigil over her casket, laying their swords over it as a
mark of protection and respect.
By recognising the similarities, my mother was
in a way seeing through what anthropologists have
called ?the ethnographic dazzle? ? the way striking but
superficial differences between cultures so often blind us
to the similarities. The similarities are inevitable because
the reality is that culture, tradition and ceremony are
foundational human needs.
And they may be becoming more so. As the
proponents of ?glocalisation? have pointed out, the
forces of globalisation and technological change have
been met with an accompanying pressure towards the
local, the perceived urgency of preserving narrower
identities and customs. Identities are not becoming
borderless, they are hunkering down. Globalisation is
not an identity. The House of Windsor is.
Where those traditions don?t exist or are inadequate,
we simply tidy them up, or invent new ones. In the
run up to a royal wedding, it?s often said how good the
British monarchy is at putting on a good show. ?We can
still show the world a clean pair of heels when it comes
to the ceremonial,? one newspaper said of the Queen?s
silver jubilee in 1977 ? casting a spirit of inevitability
about the royals? ability to get these things right.
Yet the reality ? as the furore surrounding Meghan
Markle?s father reminds us ? is that royal events have
a rich history of fiasco. Queen Victoria?s coronation
was completely unrehearsed; the clergy lost its place
in the order of service; the choir was awful; and the
ring didn?t fit. The wedding of Victoria?s eldest son, the
future Edward VII, was so shabby that commentators
complained about the carriages; and so badly organised
that Lord Palmerston, the prime minister, had to travel
back from Windsor third class.
That Britain?s excellence at pomp is invented does
not really matter ? all traditions were invented at some
point. The mourning sword used during the funeral of
the Queen Mother is believed to have originally been a
piece of 16th-century litter. Which takes make-do-andmend ? another nostalgic slogan romanticising Britain?s
wartime spirit ? to a whole new level.
It was in the late 1970s, at the same time as our
?clean pair of heels?, that the extent of globalisation ?
combined in Britain with the loss of empire ? began to
dawn on ordinary people, and anthropologists noticed
the resurgent importance of tradition in their lives. A
whole new level of turmoil is shaking the foundations of
our identities now. And so, while none of us can relate
to all the traditions others hold dear, we can?t deny that
the fact of them makes sense. Even royal weddings.
Section:GDN 1J PaGe:6 Edition Date:180516 Edition:01 Zone:
Sent at 15/5/2018 18:04
?
6
We, Israelis who wish our country
to be safe and just, are appalled and
horrified by the massive killing of
unarmed Palestinian demonstrators
in Gaza (Reports, 15 May). None of
the demonstrators posed any direct
danger to the state of Israel or to
its citizens. The killing of over 50
demonstrators and the thousands
more wounded are reminiscent of
the Sharpeville Massacre in 1960
in South Africa. The world acted
then. We call upon decent members
of the international community to
act by demanding that those who
commanded such shootings be
investigated and tried.
The current leaders of the Israeli
government are responsible for
the criminal policy of shooting
at unarmed demonstrators. The
world爉ust intervene to stop the
ongoing killing.
Avraham Burg Former speaker of
the Knesset and chairman of the
Jewish Agency
Prof Nurit Peled Elhanan 2001
co-laureate of the Sakharov prize
Prof David Harel Vice-president of
the Israel Academy of Sciences and
Humanities
Prof Yehoshua Kolodny Recipient of
the 2010 Israel prize
Alex Levac Photographer and
recipient of the 2005 Israel prize
Prof Judd Ne?eman Director and
recipient of the 2009 Israel prize
Prof Zeev Sternhell Historian and
recipient of the 2008 Israel prize
Prof David Shulman Recipient of the
2016 Israel prize
David Tartakover Artist and
recipient of the 2002 Israel prize
? The attempted invasion from
Gaza comes days after the sovereign
authority in Gaza rejected an offer
by the EU and others to completely
reconstruct Gaza in exchange for a
long-term ceasefire. The majority
of the demonstrators were indeed
unarmed and largely unharmed.
Overwhelmingly the people
who lost their lives were rioters
participating in violent riots, armed
with slings, petrol bombs, explosive
devices and, on Monday, live fire.
The rioters destroyed the terminal
through which Israel channels fuel,
food and medical aid into Gaza.
We can only imagine the massacre
that would have ensued in Israeli
villages if they had broken through
the border. It is regrettable that the
Guardian publishes what can only
be described as propaganda articles
inflaming the situation.
Michel Norman
Hod Ha?sharon, Israel
? Since 30 March, each week has
seen killings of largely unarmed
protesters by Israeli snipers. The
position has been aggravated by
the provocation of the opening of
a new US embassy in Jerusalem,
hammering another nail into the
coffin of a moribund peace process.
The Independent Jewish Voices
steering group wishes to express our
horror at the flagrant disregard for
the human rights of the Palestinians
and the norms of international
law, and our support for those
many thousands who have been
demonstrating their opposition
around the world. We燾all upon the
Corbyn wise to keep his powder
dry over Brexit negotiations
Rafael Behr?s assessment of Jeremy
Corbyn?s position in relation to Brexit
(It?s becoming ever clearer that
Corbyn wants a hard Brexit, 15燤ay)
contains two assumptions that are
almost certainly wrong. First, if it
was good strategy a year ago for the
leader of the opposition to keep his
powder dry by outlining, but not
detailing, a broad preference for the
outcome, it remains good strategy.
Behr?s assumption is that Corbyn
should shift his ground because he
will not be able to hold his position
much longer. The fact that some
within Labour are beginning to
show signs of panic does not justify
a change of policy. We have to
remember that the negotiations are
being conducted by the government
(sadly), not by parliament.
So all opposition parties must wait
until some kind of deal is proposed,
and then go through the process of
The Guardian Wednesday 16 May 2018
Letters
Calls for inquiry into
Israel?s Gaza killings
putting forward amendments and
voting. We know this will not be
straightforward, or quick. We also
know parliament must be ready to
create hell if it does not get all the
time it needs to wrangle the proposed
deal into another form, or another,
or another. The desire to make some
kind of pre-emptive move at this stage
is understandable, but it should be
resisted, and Corbyn can resist.
Behr also seeks to paint Corbyn
with hard Brexit colours on the shaky
grounds that if he does not actually
oppose it he must approve of it.
Of燾ourse, there is Euroscepticism
in Labour ? why wouldn?t there be?
Caution should be part of any dealings
with EU institutions, and Labour
has no reason to embrace current
European economic orthodoxy, but
Behr should know Corbyn is not
planning to throw out the baby with
the bathwater. We may yet be landed
cYanmaGentaYellowbla
UK government to condemn the
actions of the Israeli authorities, to
demand an independent inquiry
into the use of force on the Gaza
border, to make clear that the UK
embassy will remain in Tel Aviv, and
to redouble all diplomatic efforts to
bring the occupation to an end.
Dr Anthony Isaacs, Dr Vivienne
Jackson, Dr Katy Fox-Hodess, Dr
Tamar Steinitz, Professor燡acqueline
Rose, Ann Jungman, Merav
Pinchassoff, Professor Adam Fagan,
Professor Francesa Klug
Independent Jewish Voices steering
group
? In the face of the bloodshed in
Gaza, too many in the west have
been quick to minimise or even
excuse the state-sanctioned murder
of unarmed protesters. The White
House labelled the innocent lives
lost at the hands of Israeli troops
as ?part of the problem?, as it
celebrated its embassy move. The
UK government and Labour Friends
of Israel blamed the unarmed
Palestinian people for daring to
protest against their repression and
raised the spectre of Hamas.
Greens will continue to support
the ideals of freedom, equality and
respect for international law. And
that includes supporting Palestinian
people marking the Nakba by
protesting against their illegal
oppressors. We support a two-state
The killing of over 50
demonstrators and the
thousands wounded
are reminiscent of the
Sharpeville Massacre
Avraham Burg and others
with a harder Brexit than anyone
imagined, not because of Labour?s
reticence, but because those who panic
will play into Jacob Rees-Mogg?s hands.
Michael Bowers
Talgarth, Breconshire
? Jeremy Corbyn is not renowned
for his political astuteness. But he
is a step ahead of Neil Kinnock.
Kinnock (Jeremy Corbyn must
change course on the EEA, says Lord
Kinnock, theguardian.com, 12 May) is
advocating a course of action, voting
to remain in the European Economic
Area, that would rip Labour apart. The
Tories would love to see Corbyn at war
with those Labour constituencies that
voted leave. Some Labour MPs would
relish the chance to get the boot in
too, accusing him of defying the will
of the people. Labour will be free to
propose a different course of action
when two conditions are fulfilled. The
government?s plan for Brexit must
be known. And it must be recognised
as disastrous. Until then Corbyn is
wisely keeping his powder dry.
David Butler
London
solution but, with Netanyahu being
appeased by the west at every turn,
this has never seemed so far away.
Keith Taylor MEP
Green party, South East England
? The true occupation army in
Gaza is the over 10,000 soldiers in
the Hamas militia. Recruitment is
helped by the terrible economic
conditions. Those conditions could
be better if the Hamas leaders
decided to cooperate with Israel
rather than to chase an ephemeral
dream of reclaiming Palestine and
killing all the Jews. Gaza has no real
clean water, no sewage system and
almost no electricity. Why? Because
Hamas spends whatever funding
it receives on arms and building
tunnels into Israel. There is another
way, but neither Hamas nor any
other Palestinian political leader
seems prepared to even talk about it,
much less act to bring it about.
Aryeh Wetherhorn
Elazar, West Bank
? Letters in Tuesday?s Guardian (15
May) cut through the pain, hate, lies
and misinformation about Israel/
Palestine in the space of few column
inches. Maybe there are enough
of us prepared to move on as Ehud
Barak proposed in July 1999, and
work towards a ?peace of the brave??
Joy Helman
London
? I was so annoyed by the editorial
and reporting in the Telegraph on
Gaza, that I ? a lifelong reader ? had
to buy the Guardian to get the
definitive report. Theirs showed
little sympathy with the sufferings
of Gaza. Your editorial (15 May) is a
masterpiece of prose; thundering
and ? considering the emotive
matter ? surprisingly restrained.
Barry Carroll
London
Haze and
hound
?This dog clearly
knew where he
was heading
on the beach
at St Annes,
Lancashire?
VICTORIA BUCHAN/
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Batteries included in
energy storage ideas
output and no coal, the peak demand
for gas-fired generation will be larger,
meaning we will need more plant.
Steve Bolter
Gestingthorpe, Essex
The WWF has been oversimplistic in
its argument that no further gas-fired
power stations are needed (Report,
14 May). The forecast increase in
renewable electricity production
is only just sufficient to balance
the closure of coal-fired electricity
generation and the fall in nuclear
generation. However, electricity
demand varies, and renewables are
intermittent. There has to be enough
capacity to meet demand at all times.
While pump storage systems and
batteries can store enough energy
to cope with short-term variations
in demand and the availability of
renewable generation, it would not be
environmentally friendly, efficient or
cost-effective to use such systems to
store energy from summer to winter,
or even to survive a long midwinter
period of high pressure over the North
Sea. We may not need more gas over
the year, but with reduced nuclear
? Your article (Hydrogen is solution
to excess electricity puzzle, say
engineers, 9 May) based on a report
by the Institution of Mechanical
Engineers, makes me wonder
whether the IMechE are in the
pocket of the gas industry. The best
electrolyser conversion efficiency I?ve
ever come across is about 0.76. If that
produces hydrogen from electricity
and it?s burned in a boiler with a gross
?efficiency? of 0.9, that?s 0.68 units of
heat per unit of electricity supplied.
The best lithium-ion batteries have
a round trip ?efficiency? of 0.89.
If爐hat?s fed to a heat pump with an
achievable coefficient of performance
of 3, that?s 2.67 units of heat per
unit of electricity supplied ? almost
four times as much as can be gained
from the hydrogen option. And the
infrastructure already exists.
Professor Chris Underwood
Northumbria University
Section:GDN 1J PaGe:7 Edition Date:180516 Edition:01 Zone:
Wednesday 16 May 2018 The Guardian
Sent at 15/5/2018 18:04
cYanmaGentaYellowbla
?
7
? guardian.letters@theguardian.com
? @guardianletters
Corrections and
clarifications
? An article about Tesla referred to
two crashes involving the company?s
?electric self-driving cars?. The cars
were electric but not self-driving
(Tesla plans restructure after
production doubts, 15 May, page 30).
? Our obituary was wrong to say
that Tessa Jowell was godmother
to one of Alastair Campbell and
Fiona燤illar?s children (14 May,
page� Journal).
Editorial complaints and corrections can be sent to
guardian.readers@theguardian.com or The readers? editor,
King?s Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU; alternatively
call 020 3353 4736 from 10am to 1pm Monday to Friday
excluding public holidays
The musical magic
of Lauren Zhang
Contrary to the assertion of David
Pollock (Letters, 14 May), the Church
of England has not at any stage
lobbied for the lifting of the faith cap.
The church is committed to serving
the whole community, and is working
to ensure more families in all areas
of the country have access to our
schools. Friday?s announcement does
not impact on this commitment, as
the majority of C of E school places are
allocated irrespective of faith.
Rev Nigel Genders
Chief education officer, C of E
? Marks and Engel writing
perceptively on English cricket in the
Guardian. Good job they didn?t confine
their interests to political philosophy
(I?m losing my religion, Sport, 12燤ay).
Splendid articles from both on the
terrible state of cricket caused by
poor燼dministrators in the ECB.
Keith Plaister
Chelmsford, Essex
Lives remembered, but lessons
still not learned, after Grenfell
I am disgusted but not surprised
at recent reports that the Hackitt
review of the building regulatory
system will not contain any major
changes (?We still have death
traps?: Grenfell survivors demand
ban on flammable cladding,
15燤ay). We never learn.
In 2003 government-sponsored
research into the quality of
passive fire protection (PFP) in
buildings included this comment
in its final report: ?Public safety
is being impinged by incorrect
PFP measures and we feel that a
disaster caused by accelerated or
unexpected fire spread could follow
if no action is taken to improve
initial standards and to define the
responsibility of building occupiers
to undertake correct maintenance.?
Since then we?ve suffered two
major fires and 78 deaths, yet ?we?
propose to leave the regulations as
they are, it seems. The construction
industry cannot be trusted to improve
standards, as doing what they know is
correct will be perceived to cost them
business. It is almost a year since
Grenfell, and it now looks as though
nothing meaningful will be done,
so it can all happen again as the PFP
industry warned almost 20 years ago.
David P Sugden
Former chairman, Passive Fire
Protection Forum
? Congratulations for your front
page, with the most stunning piece
of typography I have seen in a long
time (The lives of Grenfell Tower, 14
May). Having read every name, my
eyes were moist as I turned to page 6.
Robert Randall
Tweedmouth, Northumberland
? I was very moved by the Guardian?s
biographies of the Grenfell Tower
victims. It is precisely features like
these that make my subscription
worthwhile; I am so proud to read a
newspaper that places equal value
on爀ach and every person. Thank you
for celebrating their lives.
Name and address supplied
? Congratulations on your Grenfell
Tower coverage. Perhaps you can
follow it up with a similar blast for the
survivors. It is unbelievable that so
many of them are still in temporary
accommodation. Why are people
with influence in London not making
a huge fuss about this?
Joan Green
Bourn, Cambridgeshire
? The Grenfell Tower fire shocked
us燼ll, no matter where we lived,
and led to promises that in too many
cases are yet to be fulfilled. Let?s
hope that outstanding financial
issues, impacting on residents? safety
in other blocks clad with similar
materials can be resolved swiftly,
and certainly no later than 14 June.
Les Bright
Exeter, Devon
? Monday?s edition carried reviews
of a pop concert, the Eurovision song
contest and the Baftas, but not a single
line about Lauren Zhang, who on
Sunday became the Young Musician
of the Year with a performance of
Prokofiev?s 2nd Piano Concerto that
left everyone breathless.
Dan Zerdin
London
? Pleased to see your article about
the legendary John Simons (Arts, 14
May). I bought my first Field & Stream
Harrington from him in my local
Covent Garden shop in 1981 and it
remains a very wearable, if battered,
treasured possession. Every visit to his
emporium is a thrill. He is a mod god.
Max Bell
Thame, Oxfordshire
? After being lumped together with
the House of Lords (Letters, 12 May),
I?m off on the four counties ring.
And爐hat?s not a double entendre.
Ian Grieve
Gordon Bennett,
Staffordshire and Worcester canal
Established 1906
Country diary
Kit Hill and Metherell,
Tamar Valley
At dawn, birdsong floats up from
shrubby undergrowth towards
the cold summit of Kit Hill. Mist
lies in the lowest valleys and, like
the scattered enclaves of yellow
oilseed rape and plastic-covered
maize plantings, appears luminous
among the pale greens and blues of
the patchwork of fields and woods.
The first cuckoo call of the season
impels a brief runabout in honour of
family tradition to ensure another
year of liveliness ? although my
predecessors would have had no
need to come uphill and away from
the valley to hear this bird. The
sound of melodeon, trombone,
drum and bells echoes around the
mine-stack as the Cornish Wreckers
dance morris in celebration of May
and of ?winter gone away?.
Later, 750ft lower down, we
look back towards the bleak
top of that landmark from the
blossoming orchard of local
varieties, propagated, cared for and
documented by Mary and James
(my sister and brother-in-law).
Windblown petals drift on to sweet
vernal, dandelions and lady?s smock,
but cool weather has prolonged
flowering of cherry and pear. Close to
the sheltering hedge and deer fence,
cherry specimens are over 40ft tall
? a Fice originating from Boetheric,
Mazzard from Tutwell, the Upright
from New Park, Bullions from
Latchley and Beals Mill. Burcombes
feature the thickest clusters of
blossom and have characteristic
lumpy boles at junctions between
rootstocks and grafts.
A small horticultural tunnel, to
be netted later, contains cherries on
dwarfing rootstock, but if there is
a good set of fruit on the full-sized
trees there should be enough for
us and the birds. Leaves already
overgrow pear blossom, but Mary
is painting what she and James call
?Mrs Bomford?s tree? (its variety
is not yet formally identified),
which remains spectacular with
creamy blossom on wide-spreading
branches, different from the more
vertical forms of the Harvest, Green
Sweats and Chisel pears. Now sweetscented apple blossom emerges from
pink buds on Ben?s Red, Mrs Bull?s,
Listener, Hockings Green, Lizzy and
Tregonna King. Overhead a swallow
swoops, in need, like the flowery
canopy, of warmth and more insects.
Virginia Spiers
Twitter: @gdncountrydiary
ILLUSTRATION: CLIFFORD HARPER
Section:GDN 1J PaGe:8 Edition Date:180516 Edition:01 Zone:
Sent at 15/5/2018 18:29
cYanmaGentaYellowbla
?
8
The Guardian Wednesday 16 May 2018
Obituaries
Tom Wolfe
American writer acclaimed
as a brilliant satirist for
The Bon?re of the Vanities
T
he writer Tom
Wolfe, who has
died aged 88, was
a great dandy, both
in his elaborate
dress and his neonlit prose. Although
he was in his late
50s when he became a bestselling
novelist, with The Bonfire of the
Vanities (1987), some 30 years
before that he was already famous
as a journalist, was indeed that
extremely rare thing, the journalist
as international celebrity.
It was a part Wolfe played up to,
wearing showy tailor-made white
suits, summer and winter, as well
as fancy headgear and shirts with
detachable collars. The overall
impression was of a fashion plate
from a bygone age. The sartorial
fireworks fitted in very well with
the highly eccentric literary style
Wolfe used and which made such
a name for him when he published
The Kandy-Kolored TangerineFlake Streamline Baby (1965),
which brought the world the first
news of the 1960s counterculture
in California.
The curious style came about by
chance. In 1963, commissioned to
write about custom cars for Esquire
magazine, Wolfe got as far as writing hurried notes and told his editor, Byron Dobell, to give them to
someone else because he could not
produce the finished piece. Dobell
read the notes and printed them as
they were.
The peculiar style, full of exclamation marks, words elongated for
special effect, and words in capital
letters, gave the impression of news
that was too hot for the simple
declarative sentence; also that it was
highly complicated to explain but
that Wolfe himself knew all there
was to know about it, and from the
inside. As the news was from the
counterculture or, later on, from the
world of the New York new rich, the
prose seemed to fit the passion.
The Bonfire of the Vanities, the
tale of the fall of a young Wall Street
trader, one of the self-styled ?masters of the universe?, was called the
?novel of the 1980s? and won Wolfe
a name as a brilliant satirist. The one
dark cloud in its success was that
the 1990 film of the book, directed
Wolfe in 2012.
Below, The Bonfire
of the Vanities
? the ?novel of
the 1980s? ? told
the tale of a Wall
Street trader. The
Right Stuff, 1979,
gave a non-fiction
account of the first
astronauts
MARK SELIGER/AP
by Brian De Palma, failed both critically and at the box office, in spite
of Tom Hanks playing the lead.
The other Wolfe book turned into a
movie fared much better. This was
The Right Stuff (1979), a non-fiction
account of the first astronauts. The
1983 film was made by Philip Kaufman and won four Oscars.
Fans had to wait 11 years for the
next novel, A Man in Full (1998),
a rather disjointed and over-long
look at the new south of the 90s.
This was attacked by John Updike,
Norman Mailer and John Irving.
Updike said it was not literature but
entertainment; Mailer described it
as like being made love to by a 300lb
woman (?Fall in love or be asphyxiated?) and Irving said simply: ?He
can?t fucking write.? Wolfe had a
good time counter-attacking. He
called them ?my three stooges?.
He could afford to be offhand with
his critics, for A Man in Full had
received an advance of $7.5m.
The wonderful early pieces
received nothing but praise. The
Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (1968)
was called an American classic, ?a
DayGlo book?, the Washington Post
said. It was the story of a cross-country trip in a bus by Ken Kesey, author
of One Flew Over the Cuckoo?s Nest,
and his spaced-out young followers,
the Merry Pranksters, all high on
LSD and passing it out free in glasses
of Kool-Aid.
Radical Chic and Mau-Mauing
the Flak Catchers (1970) comprised
more first-rate pieces of comic sociology, particularly the title story
about wealthy New York liberals
making fools of themselves throwing parties for the Black Panthers.
The Pump House Gang (1968) and
The
sartorial
fireworks
fitted in
well with
the highly
eccentric
literary
style
The Mid-Atlantic Man (1969) were
collections of articles; The New
Journalism (1973) an anthology; The
Painted Word (1975) art criticism;
From Bauhaus to Our House (1981)
architecture criticism; Ambush at
Fort Bragg (1997) a novella, a Rolling
Stone magazine serialisation then in
an audio-only version.
At the age of 73 and after suffering a heart attack and a quintuple
bypass, Wolfe surprised everyone
with I Am Charlotte Simmons
(2004), a brilliantly funny and
hard-hitting demolition job on
American higher education set in
a fictional Ivy League university in
Pennsylvania. Back to Blood (2012),
set in Miami and with a CubanAmerican cop as its lead character,
was described by the Guardian?s
reviewer as ?like a novel for the hard
of hearing, megaphone meets ear
trumpet?; The Kingdom of Speech
(2016) challenged theories of evolution and speech development.
Wolfe was born in Richmond,
Virginia. In later years he described
his father, Thomas, as an agronomist, but in the early years he had
called him ?a gentleman farmer?.
Wolfe was encouraged to write by
his mother, Louise, and at nine,
he tried his hand at biographies of
Napoleon and Mozart.
He went to a private day school,
St Christopher?s, in Richmond, and
then to Washington and Lee University, in Lexington, Virginia, where he
played baseball and edited the literary magazine Shenandoah. He told
me that he was very serious about
being a baseball pitcher and once put
on a tremendous amount of weight
in order to throw the ball harder.
After Washington and Lee, he went
to Yale and got a PhD in 1957 in American studies. He then found a job in
journalism on the Springfield Union
in Massachusetts. That is where I
first met him. It would be pleasant
to think that his colleagues all saw
what a success he would be, but this
is not true. We only saw that he was
different. This we put down to his
being a southerner, and at that time
in New England we were suspicious
of southerners, thinking they might
have a slave or two stashed away in
a backyard shed. His southern ways
were in fact sometimes shocking: he
told jokes about black people without
taking in the pained expressions of
his audience ? or perhaps he was
doing it on purpose to annoy us.
Early on, he demonstrated his unusual angle on stories, and it was not
always appreciated. Once he was sent
to cover an outdoor concert of classical music in the Berkshire mountains
and wrote a long piece about the
way people sat on the grass listening to it. This confused his editor at
the Springfield Union. Another time
he was covering an event at Mount
Holyoke College in nearby South
Hadley and wrote mainly about how
the president of the college held his
chin in a jut-jawed fashion while
speaking. The college was furious
and demanded an apology.
At this period he was spending
most of his free weekends in New
Section:GDN 1J PaGe:9 Edition Date:180516 Edition:01 Zone:
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?
? obituaries@theguardian.com
? @guardianobits
York, taking drawing lessons from
a New Yorker artist. This interest
in cartooning remained all his life;
he published many of them and
held one-man shows. Wolfe left the
Springfield Union for the Washington Post in 1959; he then joined the
old New York Herald Tribune in 1962
and there his real career began.
He was surprisingly shy, and
when The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby was
published in the UK in 1966, he
insisted that I make the trip down
from Liverpool to be with him in
London. He put me up in Brown?s
Hotel in Mayfair. Nervous about
the launch party being given by his
publishers, Jonathan Cape, we went
out drinking all day long and for
some reason he started imitating
WC Fields and could not stop it. It
was amusing to read, in the newspapers reporting the launch, about his
extraordinary accent.
Although the book was picked
for the American Book of the Month
Club and earned him $600,000, he
was still very much a working journalist. The Herald Tribune called
him from New York and said he
must send them a story. He told me
next day how lucky he was to have
seen a man hit by a taxi in London.
The man was sitting in the street
nursing a broken leg and saying over
and over again: ?What a bore.? This,
Wolfe thought, would show New
York what a strange use of language
the English had.
Wolfe came to stay with me in
Liverpool and while there wrote
much of what became The MidAtlantic Man. Every morning he
went out in a suit and tie with a
packet of ginger nut biscuits to
sit in the Sefton Park palm house
writing. He wrote everything in
longhand first, using a fancy style
of calligraphy so that sometimes he
was getting only 14 words to a page.
Afterwards he would rewrite on a
typewriter, and never really took to
computers.
Wolfe was mistaken for a liberal
when he first started out, but his
ultra-conservatism later became
obvious. He not only supported
Ronald Reagan, calling him ?one of
the greatest presidents ever? but,
much worse to the east coast liberal
mind, he praised George W Bush.
When people said they would leave
the country if Bush was elected,
Wolfe said he might go to Kennedy
airport to wave them goodbye. He
thought Donald Trump ?a lovable
megalomaniac?, and, comparing
him to Reagan, concluded that ?brilliance is really not a requirement for
politicians?.
In 1978 he married Sheila Berger,
the art director at Harper?s magazine. She survives him, along with
their two children, Alexandra and
Tommy.
Stanley Reynolds
Margot Kidder
Actor best known for
her role as the reporter
Lois Lane in Superman
?Y
ou?ll believe a
man can fly,?
promised the
advertising
campaign
for the 1978
blockbuster
Superman: The
Movie. None of that technical razzledazzle would have counted for much,
though, without the lively rapport
between the film?s stars: Christopher
Reeve as Superman and his alter-ego
Clark Kent, and Margot Kidder, who
has died aged 69, as the go-getting,
chain-smoking reporter Lois Lane.
They brought a screwball vivacity
to the film. Her sassy performance
never allowed Lois to become
merely the love interest or a damsel
in distress, even when those were
her superficial functions in the
script. Lois was nobody?s fool, give
or take her inability, necessary to
the narrative, to spot that only a pair
of glasses and a Spandex bodysuit
distinguished Clark from Superman.
A highlight was Lois?s nighttime
tour above Manhattan (or Metropolis, as the film called it) on Superman?s arm. Their romance was
wisely placed at the centre of the
sequel, which was shot back-toback with the first film. Though
Kidder, never shy of speaking her
mind, bemoaned publicly the
sacking of the director Richard
Donner in favour of Richard Lester
for Superman II (1980), the second
picture was a superior showcase
for her range. Early scenes, as she
tries to confirm her newfound
suspicions that Clark and Superman
are one and the same by placing
herself in danger, ripe to be rescued,
are brimming with comic pizzazz.
Later, when Superman sacrifices his
powers in order to live with Lois as a
mortal, she plays this scenario with
tenderness and subtlety.
Her outspokenness about Donner?s
sacking cost her dearly. On Superman
III (1983), again directed by Lester, her
screen-time was drastically reduced
in favour of two new co-stars, Annette
O?Toole and Pamela Stephenson.
A change in producers meant she
was featured more prominently in
Superman IV: The Quest for Peace
(1987), but too late: not only was this
the weakest of the series, it also has
some claim on being one of the worst
films of that decade. (In one scene, a
bus station in Milton Keynes doubles
for the UN headquarters.)
Kidder was born in Yellowknife,
in Canada?s Northwest Territories, to
Jill, a teacher, and Kendall, a mining
engineer whose job demanded that
the family relocate regularly. She
attended 11 schools in around 12 years
and suffered emotional problems as
a teenager; at 14, she tried to take her
own life. Her interest in acting was
encouraged at a Toronto boarding
school, Havergal college.
?I thought in acting I could let my
real self out and no one would know
it was me,? she said. Two years after
graduating in 1966 she got her first
professional acting job, in the short
film The Best Damn Fiddler from
Calabogie to Kaladar (1969). Her
film debut was as a prostitute in the
comedy Gaily, Gaily (1969).
She began getting work in
Canadian TV series and relocated
to Los Angeles in 1970. She starred
opposite Gene Wilder in the gentle
comedy Quackser Fortune Has a
Thomas Kennerly Wolfe, journalist
and novelist, born 2 March 1930; died
14 May 2018
Stanley Reynolds died in 2016
Kidder with Christopher Reeve in Superman: The Movie, 1978. She never allowed
Lois to be merely the love interest or a damsel in distress EVERETT COLLECTION/ALAMY
9
Cousin in the Bronx (1970). She and a
fellow actor, Jennifer Salt, moved in
together in a house outside Malibu,
which soon became an unofficial
hang-out for Hollywood?s young
up-and-comers, including Steven
Spielberg, Martin Scorsese and
Kidder?s then-partner, Brian De
Palma, who cast both women in his
clever horror film Sisters (1973). She
was already gaining a reputation
for wildness. In his book Easy
Riders, Raging Bulls, Peter Biskind
wrote: ?She broke hearts and sued
producers ? and struck her friends
as not altogether stable.?
Her acting career was going great
guns, with appearances in another
horror movie, Black Christmas, the
caper-comedy The Dion Brothers
(both 1974) and alongside Robert
Redford in The Great Waldo Pepper.
She married the novelist and
screenwriter Thomas McGuane after
working with him in 92 in the Shade
(1975), his only film as director.
She gave up acting briefly when
she became pregnant with their
daughter, Maggie. She and McGuane
divorced after a year, as did she
and her third husband, the director
Philippe de Broca, in 1983. In
between was a second marriage, to
the actor John Heard in 1979, which
lasted just six days.
In the wake of Superman: The
Movie, Kidder starred in the hit film
The Amityville Horror (1979). The
critic Janet Maslin described her as
?the bright-eyed life of the party? but
Kidder thought poorly of the film,
calling it ?one of the worst movies
ever made?. In Willie & Phil (1980),
Paul Mazursky?s loose spin on Jules
et Jim, Kidder was delightful in the
Jeanne Moreau role. She took the
Marilyn Monroe part, Ch閞ie, on
television in Bus Stop, starred in
the Richard Pryor comedy Some
Kind of Hero (both 1982) and played
Eliza Doolittle in a TV version of
Pygmalion (1983). Notable work
dried up and her career was already
in the doldrums by the time she was
injured in a serious car crash in 1990.
Bankruptcy followed.
In 1996, she suffered a public
breakdown when she was found
in a stranger?s garden, having
hacked off her hair and damaged
her teeth after becoming convinced
that McGuane had enlisted the
CIA to kill her. ?I guess I came to
terms with my demons,? she later
said, attributing her recovery to
orthomolecular psychiatry, which
spurns conventional medicine.
Later acting appearances included
Rob Zombie?s horror remake
Halloween II (2009) and TV series
such as the Superman spin-off
Smallville (2004), The L Word (2006)
and Brothers and Sisters (2007).
Political activism dominated her
life; in recent years, she protested
against US military action in Iraq and
campaigned for Bernie Sanders.
She is survived by Maggie and by
her grandchildren, Charlie and Mazie.
Ryan Gilbey
Margot (Margaret Ruth) Kidder, actor,
born 17 October 1948; died 13 May 2018
Birthdays
Lady (Kay) Andrews, former chair,
English Heritage, 75; Rosie Barnes,
former chief executive, the Cystic
Fibrosis Trust, and former SDP
MP, 71; Pierce Brosnan, actor, 65;
Nicky Chinn, songwriter, 73; Phil
Clarke, rugby league coach and
commentator, 47; Billy Cobham,
drummer and composer, 74; Judy
Finnigan, broadcaster and writer,
70; Robert Fripp, guitarist and
record producer, 72; Sir Nicholas
Goodison, financier and arts
administrator, 84; Neil Gray, SNP
MP, 32; Roy Hudd, comedian and
actor, 82; Janet Jackson, singer,
52; Olga Korbut, gymnast, 63;
Christian Lacroix, fashion designer,
67; Heather Lloyd, circuit judge, 61;
Lord (David) Blencathra, former
Conservative MP and minister, 65;
Lord (Kenneth) Morgan, historian
and former principal, University
College of Wales, Aberystwyth,
84; Krist Novoselic, bass guitarist,
53; Hazel O?Connor, singer and
songwriter, 63; Jonathan Richman,
singer and songwriter, 67; Prof
Emma Rothschild, economist and
historian, 70; Gabriela Sabatini,
tennis player, 48; Prof Janet
Soskice, professor of philosophical
theology, Cambridge University,
67; Tori Spelling, actor, 45; Nigel
Twiston-Davies, racehorse trainer,
61; Debra Winger, actor, 63.
Letter
Tessa Jowell
Andrew Hillier writes: Tessa Jowell
(obituary, 14 May) was a member of
the Mental Health Act Commission set
up in 1983 to safeguard the interests
of patients formally detained in
mental hospitals, which included
visiting and monitoring their care.
Already an expert in the field, she
wore her learning lightly. A team
player, she combined penetrating
questions with a compassion for
the patients and the staff caring for
them. Distressing though the work
sometimes was, she was always
vivacious and full of good humour.
Announcements
Section:GDN 1J PaGe:10 Edition Date:180516 Edition:01 Zone:
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10
The Guardian Wednesday 16 May 2018
Europe now
Europe cannot
a?ord a full
divorce with
the US over Iran
Bruno
Tertrais
I
n 2003 a US-led war in the Middle East fractured
western unity and divided the European
family. It was a trauma of historic proportions,
a watershed in some ways comparable to the
1956 Suez crisis. With Donald Trump?s decision
on Iran, we may be on the verge of another such
moment. On the surface, things may not look as
bad as they did in early 2003. At this point, US
military action against Iran is a worst-case hypothesis
? not a plan. No 180,000-strong force is being built
up near Iranian territory. Nor are Europeans split into
two camps. In this current crisis, and despite Brexit,
Europeans look like they?re sticking together.
Trump?s decision is not only extraordinarily brutal, it
affects a project whose origins are found in a European
initiative from 2003, when the UK, France and Germany
sent their foreign ministers to Tehran for talks: that
project was aimed at limiting Iran?s nuclear programme
through peaceful means. It took 12 years of international
diplomacy, in which Europe played an important role, to
reach the deal that Trump has now decided to tear up.
This US move amounts to an open assault on
multilateralism ? something that, as history shows,
Europeans have an existential interest in upholding.
Trump?s decision can only be an own goal. US credibility
will be severely affected. When a German chancellor
declares that Europe can no longer rely on the United
States, you know something is amiss. Many others will
ask: how can we ever trust a country that can withdraw
overnight from solemn international agreements?
This could end badly. When Trump realises his
strategy is bound to fail, he may want to resort to
military force. His decision on Iran comes after a
We would be the
?rst, outside the
Middle East, to su?er the
consequences if more
chaos and war erupts
Macron, Merkel and Trump at last year?s G20 summit
PHOTOGRAPH: JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
year and a half of insults, disparaging comments, and
decisions that run counter to western interests. He cares
little about Nato, and believes the US isn?t getting a fair
return on its investment in European security. He has
withdrawn from the Paris climate agreement, and has
imposed tariffs on steel and aluminium.
So is it time for Europe to seek a divorce from the US?
Well, not quite. For several reasons, we should refrain
from entering into confrontation. Europe may be the
largest trade bloc in the world, but in truth it does not
have the capacity to tackle 21st-century challenges on its
own, and it would have even less capacity to do so if its
relationship with the US came fully apart.
There is simply no alternative to a strong transatlantic
partnership. There is no spare superpower with which
Europeans would share enough interests to build a new
alliance: China and Russia offer no such thing. Besides,
transatlantic flows of trade and capital stand at the heart
of the global economy, and they are irreplaceable.
Another reason to maintain a partnership with the
US is the magnitude of the security risks Europe faces.
Islamic State might be militarily defeated, but jihadist
terrorism is a generational challenge: we cannot afford to
turn our backs on cooperation with the US. The trauma
of terrorist attacks in Europe remains vivid.
And then there is Vladimir Putin?s Russia, a regime
challenging our continent?s security and actively seeking
to weaken and divide Europe and the west. Make no
mistake, the first country to benefit from a breakup
between the US and Europe is authoritarian Russia.
Certainly, US-Europe relations are now entering
troubled, uncharted waters. But this could be a phase.
Trump will be there for another three or seven years. But
by historical standards, that?s a short period of time. The
US is a vibrant and innovative economy with a dynamic,
multicultural population, and is an optimistic society
that cherishes individual freedom. That won?t go away.
We need to think about the future.
F
or us Europeans, today?s choices are
difficult and there are real dilemmas.
Building European unity is the first
imperative. Some member states of the
EU ? especially in the central and eastern
parts of the continent? may perhaps
be tempted to give a nod to Trump for
tactical purposes ? as a downpayment for
US security protection. That would be a miscalculation,
as European discord would benefit only Russia.
We need to be firm with Washington. The nuclear
deal, or what remains of it, needs to be supported. If
it collapses entirely, that should not be because of us.
Trump has taken an extraordinary gamble, and we in
Europe would be the first, outside the Middle East, to
suffer the consequences if more chaos and war erupts.
Our least bad option is to show we?re ready to do what
we can to preserve the 2015 deal. We need to mitigate the
impact of US sanctions on European business.
Our limitations are, however, rather obvious. Europe
can?t afford a transatlantic trade war. Its companies and
banks do much more business on the other side of the
Atlantic than they will ever do with Iran. If anything,
this crisis should bolster calls to build up Europe?s
defence capabilities. We should think of that ambition
as a win-win proposition: as both a way of dispelling
US statements saying we refuse to carry our share of
the security burden, and as insurance that protects us
against further erratic behaviour from Washington.
Since 1945 the transatlantic relationship has been
the bedrock of Europe?s economy and its security. One
should tread carefully with that legacy. No other US
president has ever been as antagonistic towards Europe
and towards the principles it defends. The American
people elected Trump as president, so we have to respect
that. But what we don?t have to respect are the decisions
he takes that have negative consequences for everyone,
ourselves included.
In 2003 my country, France, staunchly opposed the
Iraq war , alongside Germany ? but they were entirely
unable to prevent it. Now Europeans have to find a way
to mitigate the destructiveness coming out of the White
House; but we must also be clear-eyed about what our
capacities truly are.
?
Bruno
Tertrais
is deputy
director of
the French
thinktank
Fondation pour
la recherche
strat間ique
Dorthe Nors
is a Danish
writer and
novelist
If Danes drive
out wolves,
could migrants
be next?
Dorthe
Nors
Section:GDN 1J PaGe:11 Edition Date:180516 Edition:01 Zone:
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?
11
Andrzej Krauze on the targeting of journalists
An investigative reporter was shot and injured in Montenegro last week.
This was the third armed attack on the press in Europe in seven months
There?s also talk of
strengthening the
border, to secure it against
anyone who comes across
to take our things
the two spotters cowards. Some locals felt they had
undermined something, but what? Not just the battle
against wolves.
There are pragmatic and reflective voices in the wolf
debate. People and animals should be able to co-exist.
It requires solutions. But the debate?s loudest voices
speak of a Denmark that is too small for the wolf. They
say it?s the European Union?s fault that the wolf even
arrived ? and also the EU that says we can?t shoot it. One
day I heard somebody say we could outlaw burqas and
wolves at the same time. Burqas and wolves!
There?s also talk about strengthening the DanishGerman border. To secure it against anyone who comes
across to take our things. Gangs of eastern European
thieves, for instance. Thieves, yeah! And wolves! The
wolves infringe on property rights too. The land belongs
to us. And so the battle lines are clearly drawn: on one
side, apparent wolf-haters; and on the other, a wolf and
wolf-spotters, equipped only with a vacuum flask of
coffee and a camera.
T
A
wolf was killed last month, not far
from where I live. Some years ago
I moved from Copenhagen back
to west Jutland, on Denmark?s
North Sea coast. I settled where my
grandmother comes from, among
hardy Jutlanders in the beautiful,
desolate countryside not far from the
village of Ulfborg. The wolf showed up around that same
time. Once wolves had given Ulfborg ? literally ?Wolf
Castle? ? its name, but they had long disappeared. The
last Danish wolf ? before their recent return ? had been
shot in 1813, and the species was not welcomed back:
farmers worried about their animals, parents about their
kids, and politicians about their votes.
Experts sent out to observe Denmark?s new wolves
and reassure the population that these animals pose no
danger to people have a tough time getting their message
across. Fear quickly gathers pace on social media. People
share fake stories about wolves and start seeing them
everywhere. Facts give way to emotions.
Local politicians saw their chance and tapped into
the fear. People were agitated. Recently in Ulfborg, an
association was formed called Wolf-Free Denmark.
Then came 16 April: the killing. It was a classic scene:
a couple of ?wolf-spotters?, as they?re called, had gone
into the forest. They?d been sitting there since early
morning, filming a pair of wolves playing in a field.
Just after noon, a big tractor arrived. Witnesses later
claimed it was pursuing one of the wolves. Meanwhile
the driver filmed the scene on his mobile phone. The
animal didn?t act aggressively, but eventually lay down
to rest, a safe distance from the tractor. Soon afterwards,
an SUV showed up. The man in the vehicle rolled down
his window. At first the spotters thought he was filming
the wolf too. The creature trotted away from the SUV,
glanced over at it, and then suddenly: a shot. The wolf
collapsed. It tried to get on its feet again, but died there
in the field. The wolf-spotters filmed it all.
Hunting from a motor vehicle is illegal, and the wolf
is a protected species in the European Union. That the
man in the tractor happened to be a local politician with,
at the time, his eye on a seat in parliament (he?s since
stepped down, in the aftermath of the scandal) ? and that
the man later charged with poaching is a close relative
(though he denies any wrongdoing) ? is not as surprising
as it ought to be. Public support for wolf hunting runs
high around here. What was shocking was the way the
killing occurred, as well as the local reaction. Many
thought the shooter should get a medal. Some called
he Danish Broadcasting Corporation
decided to broadcast the film of the
killing on prime time. Viewers were
shocked. The following day, reporters
visited a supermarket in Ulfborg. Some
west Jutlanders declared that they
didn?t like vigilantism, but the wolf
had to go. A couple of older women
didn?t mince their words: the shooter was a hero, and
the remaining wolves should be captured, loaded on to
a lorry and driven to Copenhagen.
It all has to do with the relationship between the
periphery and the centre. If the wolf had been German,
it ought to have been transported to Berlin; and a wolf
recently spotted in Belgium should soon be put on a
lorry bound for Brussels.
People who live far from our capital cities feel
overlooked and victimised by globalisation. They are
suspicious of experts, they don?t like change ? and now
they want to be heard.
They shout out for easy solutions. Politicians seize on
the popular mood. And there?s momentum in populism:
Donald Trump, Brexit, Alternative f黵 Deutschland, the
far-right Danish People?s party; and big lorries that can
cart away everything we don?t think belongs.
The day after the killing of the wolf was broadcast,
I went for a long walk down by the sea, saddened and
afraid. It wasn?t merely a wolf that had been harmed;
peace of mind had suffered as well. Thoughtful voices
were being squeezed out by extreme positions. The
wolf has adapted to a Europe in peacetime. It crosses
borders, and we now have to find a way to co-exist with
it. The only viable option is to take practical precautions
and allay fears. That requires a willingness to learn
about the habits of wolves, and to listen ? at a time when
so many people would rather shout in social-media
echo chambers.
The last time that wolves were eradicated from
Jutland, the few trees left had all been bowed to the
ground by the western wind. Everything was heath.
People, sheep and wolves all starved. The land was
impoverished.
Things are different now. The land has been
cultivated, while broad forests and heaths are home
to vast numbers of red and roe deer. My grandmother
told me of her love for the magnificent, rugged place
she grew up in. She?d been born in 1905, and she called
Ulfborg ?Uldborg?, or ?Wool Castle?. I don?t know
whether that was the west Jutlandic dialect, and its way
of blurring what it really wanted to say ? or the language
itself trying to wipe out the wolf.
Section:GDN 1J PaGe:12 Edition Date:180516 Edition:01 Zone:
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cYanmaGentaYellowbl
The Guardian Wednesday 16 May 2018
12
Puzzles
Yesterday?s
solutions
Killer Sudoku
Codeword
Easy
Each letter of the alphabet makes at least one appearance in the grid,
and is represented by the same number wherever it appears. The letters
decoded should help you to identify other letters and words in the grid.
Killer Sudoku
Easy
The normal rules of
Sudoku apply: fill each
row, column and 3x3 box
with all the numbers from
1 to 9. In addition, the
digits in each inner shape
(marked by dots) must
add up to the number in
the top corner of that box.
No digit can be repeated
within an inner shape.
Medium
Medium
Codeword
Cryptic crossword
Solution No. 27,509
RE S I GNS BUT L ER S
O E U I R O M P
V I L L A GEOGRAPHY
E L R M A Y H G
ROUNDHANDS
AL L
S P R
C M S A
LABORATOR I E S
P P I B S T S S
RURA L I S A T I ON
I O S O
R H P
S I X
P LA I NCHANT
O I B E N Y R I
N UM B E R T WO C H E S S
E A E E F L E A
R E L A T E D F R E EMA N
Guardian cryptic crossword No 27,510 set by Puck
1
2
3
4
5
7
8
9
10
6
11
12
13
16
17
18
14
19
15
20
21
22
Stuck? For help call 0906�0��.
Calls cost �10 per minute, plus your
phone company?s access charge.
Service爏upplied by ATS.
Call�30�3�46 for customer
service�(charged at standard rate).
Want more? Get access to more than
4,000 puzzles at theguardian.com/
crossword. To buy puzzle books, visit
guardianbookshop.com or call
0330�3�46.
23
24
25
27
28
29
30
Across
Animals running wild in 3 era (9)
One to mount a 26 (5)
Son of Scottish king, 19 (9)
Regularly call on us to 26 (5)
Footballer in 1926, right halfback
(6)
13 A king has one coal supply in 19
(8)
16 Intimate times at hand (5,2)
19,26 A Green Line outing?s a hit,
leading to more than one day out
for many? (7,6)
22 Harlot cycling around with X, a
seductive character (8)
25 Creative person, twice briefly in
19 practice (6)
27 Kick hard for a 19 (5)
28 19 3 in conversation with the
virgin (9)
29 Good to mouth off, in 19 (5)
30 Adult locked up in Wakefield,
missing green area once part of
Yorkshire? (9)
7
8
9
10
12
26
Down
1 Stop outside right line for one
on 26 (6)
2 Old woman with bad asthma
revered wise men (8)
3 George Armstrong, 19, more
astute when tackling Spurs
winger (6)
4 Soldier in uniform, in 19 (7)
5 No end of bile Puck produced
in 19 (6)
6 Trade union in a state, for real (6)
11 See 18
14 See 16
15,17 Utter rallying cry from 1926?
(3-3)
16,14 Oddly, only the Guardian?s
after first instalment of
Camberwick Green? (6)
17 See 15
18,11 Film bride wiping bottom?
(4,4)
20 Guess Puck?s into a car with extra
storage space (8)
21 19 in old Ford (7)
23 Smells good, our scent bottle (6)
24 Far from enjoying a night out (6)
25 Former PM and Attorney 19 (6)
26 See 19
tinians ?you?re fired?
and they will meekly go away.
Section:GDN 1J PaGe:4 Edition Date:180516 Edition:01 Zone:
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?
4
The Guardian Wednesday 16 May 2018
Opinion
Putting a price
on nature will
only speed its
destruction
George
Monbiot
N
ever mind that the new
environmental watchdog will
have no teeth. Never mind that
the government plans to remove
protection from local wildlife
sites. Never mind that its 25-year
environment plan is all talk and
no action. We don?t need rules any
more. We have a pouch of magic powder we can sprinkle
on any problem to make it disappear.
This powder is the monetary valuation of the natural
world. Through the market, we can avoid conflict and
hard choices, laws and policies, by replacing political
decisions with economic calculations.
Almost all official documents on environmental
issues are now peppered with references to ?natural
capital? and to the Natural Capital Committee, the
Laputian body the government has created to price
the living world and develop a set of ?national natural
capital accounts?. The government admits that ?at
present we cannot robustly value everything we
wish to in economic terms; wildlife being a particular
challenge?. Hopefully, such gaps can soon be filled, so
we?ll know exactly how much a primrose is worth.
The government argues that without a price,
the living world is accorded no value, so irrational
decisions are made. By costing nature, you ensure
that it commands the investment and protection that
Deer roam through bluebells in Micheldever wood,
Hampshire PHOTOGRAPH: VICTORIA JONES/PA
It?s not just
Hugh Grant
who?s dumped
romcoms
other forms of capital attract. This thinking is based on a
series of extraordinary misconceptions. Even the name
reveals a confusion: natural capital is a contradiction
in terms. Capital is properly understood as the humanmade segment of wealth that is deployed in production
to create further financial returns. Concepts such as
natural capital, human capital or social capital can be
used as metaphors or analogies, though even these are
misleading. But the 25-year plan defines natural capital
as ?the air, water, soil and ecosystems that support all
forms of life?. In other words, nature is capital. In reality,
natural wealth and human-made capital are neither
comparable nor interchangeable. If the soil is washed off
the land, we cannot grow crops on a bed of derivatives.
A similar fallacy applies to price. Unless something is
redeemable for money, a pound or dollar sign placed in
front of it is senseless: price represents an expectation of
payment, in accordance with market rates. In pricing a
river, a landscape or an ecosystem, either you are lining
it up for sale, in which case the exercise is sinister, or you
are not, in which case it is meaningless.
Still more deluded is the expectation that we can
defend the living world through the mindset that?s
destroying it. The notions that nature exists to serve
us; that its value consists of the instrumental benefits
we can extract; that this value can be measured in cash
terms; and that what can?t be measured does not matter,
have proved lethal to the rest of life on Earth.
The natural capital agenda reinforces the notion
that nature has no value unless you can extract cash
from it. Dieter Helm, who chairs the government?s
preposterous committee, makes this point explicit: the
idea that nature has intrinsic value, independent of what
humans can take from it, he says, is ?dangerous?. But
this dangerous idea has been the motivating force of all
successful environmental campaigns.
The natural capital agenda, its defenders say, is
?an additional weapon in the fight to protect the
countryside?. But it does not add, it subtracts. As the
philosopher Michael Sandel argues in What Money
Can?t Buy, market values crowd out non-market
values. Markets change the meaning of the things we
discuss, replacing moral obligations with commercial
relationships. This corrupts and degrades our intrinsic
values and empties public life of moral argument.
Natalie
Haynes
A
I
t is also, his examples show, counterproductive:
financial incentives undermine our motivation
to act for the public good. ?Altruism, generosity,
solidarity and civic spirit are ? like muscles that
develop and grow stronger with exercise. One of
the defects of the market-driven society is it lets
these virtues languish.? So who will resist this
parched, destructive mindset? Not, it seems, the
big conservation groups. Tony Juniper ? who in other
respects is an admirable defender of the living world
? says he will use his new post as head of campaigns at
WWF to promote the natural capital agenda.
Perhaps he is unaware that in 2014 WWF
commissioned research to test this approach. It showed
that when people were reminded of the intrinsic value of
nature, they were more likely to defend the living planet
and support WWF?than when they were exposed to
financial arguments. It also discovered that using both
arguments together produced the same result as just the
financial one: the natural capital agenda undermined
people?s intrinsic motivation.
Has this been forgotten? Sometimes I wonder whether
anything is learned in conservation, or whether the big
NGOs are for ever destined to follow a circular track,
endlessly repeating their mistakes.
The natural capital agenda is the definitive expression
of our disengagement from the living world. First we
lose our wildlife and natural wonders. Then we lose our
connections with what remains of life on Earth. Then
we lose the words that described what we once knew.
Then we call it capital and give it a price. This approach
is morally wrong, intellectually vacuous, emotionally
alienating and self-defeating.
Those of us who are motivated by love for the
living planet should not hesitate to say so. Never
underestimate the power of intrinsic values. They
inspire every struggle for a better world.
?
Natalie Haynes
is a writer,
broadcaster and
comedian
t the grand old age of 57, Hugh Grant
has announced that he is done with
romcoms. More interesting roles are
coming his way, apparently. As they
should: I would have cheerfully
given him an Oscar for Paddington
2, in which he plays a far cleverer
and more engrossing villain than
Sam Rockwell?s turn in Three Billboards Outside
Ebbing, Missouri. But it seems a shame to abandon
the whole genre of romantic comedy, in which Grant
has been a staple since he first swore his way into our
hearts in Four Weddings and a Funeral in 1994.
Or maybe romcoms have abandoned him, and all
of us who have grown bored of them in recent years.
Actors wanting the acclaim of awards often shy
away爁rom comedies, although that wasn?t always the
case. In 1950 Judy Holliday beat Bette Davis, Anne
Baxter and Gloria Swanson to the best actress Oscar
for爃er role as the helium-voiced gangster?s moll in
Born Yesterday.
It has been a while since a romcom performance
earned anyone an Oscar: Jennifer Lawrence managed
it in 2012 for Silver Linings Playbook. But that isn?t
a straight-up romcom. It is actually rather serious,
examining mental health issues as two broken souls
try to find their way to happiness. But that would also
be a reasonable description of When Harry Met Sally
(no one who orders food the way Sally does is without
problems. And I write as someone who won?t drink
opaque drinks, or from opaque containers). And the
gag rate in the latter is breathtaking, quite aside from
the performances. Nora Ephron wasn?t aiming for
realism, she was aiming for laughs.
Perhaps the problem, as Peter O?Toole succinctly put
it in My Favourite Year, is that dying is easy; comedy
is hard. Although last year?s romcom hit, The Big Sick,
managed to tick both boxes and get laughs out of a
coma. Based on the true story of its screenwriters ? a
comedian and his girlfriend who becomes ill ? the
movie breaks and warms your heart in equal measure.
Realistic romcoms (like realistic superhero films)
may sound like a contradiction in terms, but there
is something to be said for allowing the darkness of
life on to the screen. Quite aside from anything else,
it buys you some leeway with your audience: funny
characters are hard to write. It helps if you can cite reallife inspiration and sadness. It can add texture and save
you from schmaltz.
Maybe romcoms will have to raise their game if they
can?t rely on the box-office draw of stars such as Hugh
Grant any more without having to worry too much
about the script. But comedies used to be faster-paced
and have a 90-minute running time to match; that?s
rare after Knocked Up and Bridesmaids ? both over two
hours long ? set the trend. No amount of realism would
make me laugh more than a return to crisp editing and
sharp one-liners.
Section:GDN 1J PaGe:5 Edition Date:180516 Edition:01 Zone:
Wednesday 16 May 2018 The Guardian
Sent at 15/5/2018 17:41
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?
5
In Ghana I saw
why we need
royal weddings
Afua
Hirsch
P
rince Harry is marrying Meghan Markle
this week, and it presents me with a
dilemma. I am no royalist. The British
royal family has been synonymous
with empire ? the devastating effects
of which we have barely begun to
process ? and the slave trade, in which
monarchs all the way back to Elizabeth
I personally invested. The royal family has never
acknowledged, let alone apologised for, this past.
One of the most painful aspects of Britain?s colonial
legacy is that families like mine, who once lived
in Kumasi, the Asante capital in west Africa, saw
centuries of heritage, literature and art obliterated and
looted by British soldiers and mercenaries. The trauma
of these memories is compounded by the fact that the
British monarchy was not only involved in, but actually
enjoyed, these ?adventures?.
Yet it is because of the co-option of countries such as
Ghana into the global economy, on Britain?s terms, that
I exist. My family was educated in Britain because of the
empire, and as a descendant of that dual heritage I have
two cultural traditions. And given my interest in identity,
I can very easily relate to the love so many have for the
monarchy. People are searching for a heritage that has
content and history, tradition and faith. These things are
not rational; they are emotional, and they go deep.
When in 2002 my mum watched the funeral of the
Queen Mother, for whom she felt a fond affection, one
detail moved her more than anything else. The Queen
Mother?s four grandsons ? Princes Charles, Andrew and
Edward, and Viscount Linley ? stood vigil by her coffin,
illuminated by candlelight, their heads bowed and
swords reversed. For my mother it closely resembled the
funeral of her own grandmother, in the Ghanaian village
of Nsawem. My great-grandmother was a huge figure not
just for her descendants, but for the wider community.
As she lay in state in the house that she built ? which still
stands in Nsawem today ? men in ceremonial dress also
stood vigil over her casket, laying their swords over it as a
mark of protection and respect.
By recognising the similarities, my mother was
in a way seeing through what anthropologists have
called ?the ethnographic dazzle? ? the way striking but
superficial differences between cultures so often blind us
to the similarities. The similarities are inevitable because
the reality is that culture, tradition and ceremony are
foundational human needs.
And they may be becoming more so. As the
proponents of ?glocalisation? have pointed out, the
forces of globalisation and technological change have
been met with an accompanying pressure towards the
local, the perceived urgency of preserving narrower
identities and customs. Identities are not becoming
borderless, they are hunkering down. Globalisation is
not an identity. The House of Windsor is.
Where those traditions don?t exist or are inadequate,
we simply tidy them up, or invent new ones. In the
run up to a royal wedding, it?s often said how good the
British monarchy is at putting on a good show. ?We can
still show the world a clean pair of heels when it comes
to the ceremonial,? one newspaper said of the Queen?s
silver jubilee in 1977 ? casting a spirit of inevitability
about the royals? ability to get these things right.
Yet the reality ? as the furore surrounding Meghan
Markle?s father reminds us ? is that royal events have
a rich history of fiasco. Queen Victoria?s coronation
was completely unrehearsed; the clergy lost its place
in the order of service; the choir was awful; and the
ring didn?t fit. The wedding of Victoria?s eldest son, the
future Edward VII, was so shabby that commentators
complained about the carriages; and so badly organised
that Lord Palmerston, the prime minister, had to travel
back from Windsor third class.
That Britain?s excellence at pomp is invented does
not really matter ? all traditions were invented at some
point. The mourning sword used during the funeral of
the Queen Mother is believed to have originally been a
piece of 16th-century litter. Which takes make-do-andmend ? another nostalgic slogan romanticising Britain?s
wartime spirit ? to a whole new level.
It was in the late 1970s, at the same time as our
?clean pair of heels?, that the extent of globalisation ?
combined in Britain with the loss of empire ? began to
dawn on ordinary people, and anthropologists noticed
the resurgent importance of tradition in their lives. A
whole new level of turmoil is shaking the foundations of
our identities now. And so, while none of us can relate
to all the traditions others hold dear, we can?t deny that
the fact of them makes sense. Even royal weddings.
Section:GDN 1J PaGe:6 Edition Date:180516 Edition:01 Zone:
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?
6
We, Israelis who wish our country
to be safe and just, are appalled and
horrified by the massive killing of
unarmed Palestinian demonstrators
in Gaza (Reports, 15 May). None of
the demonstrators posed any direct
danger to the state of Israel or to
its citizens. The killing of over 50
demonstrators and the thousands
more wounded are reminiscent of
the Sharpeville Massacre in 1960
in South Africa. The world acted
then. We call upon decent members
of the international community to
act by demanding that those who
commanded such shootings be
investigated and tried.
The current leaders of the Israeli
government are responsible for
the criminal policy of shooting
at unarmed demonstrators. The
world爉ust intervene to stop the
ongoing killing.
Avraham Burg Former speaker of
the Knesset and chairman of the
Jewish Agency
Prof Nurit Peled Elhanan 2001
co-laureate of the Sakharov prize
Prof David Harel Vice-president of
the Israel Academy of Sciences and
Humanities
Prof Yehoshua Kolodny Recipient of
the 2010 Israel prize
Alex Levac Photographer and
recipient of the 2005 Israel prize
Prof Judd Ne?eman Director and
recipient of the 2009 Israel prize
Prof Zeev Sternhell Historian and
recipient of the 2008 Israel prize
Prof David Shulman Recipient of the
2016 Israel prize
David Tartakover Artist and
recipient of the 2002 Israel prize
? The attempted invasion from
Gaza comes days after the sovereign
authority in Gaza rejected an offer
by the EU and others to completely
reconstruct Gaza in exchange for a
long-term ceasefire. The majority
of the demonstrators were indeed
unarmed and largely unharmed.
Overwhelmingly the people
who lost their lives were rioters
participating in violent riots, armed
with slings, petrol bombs, explosive
devices and, on Monday, live fire.
The rioters destroyed the terminal
through which Israel channels fuel,
food and medical aid into Gaza.
We can only imagine the massacre
that would have ensued in Israeli
villages if they had broken through
the border. It is regrettable that the
Guardian publishes what can only
be described as propaganda articles
inflaming the situation.
Michel Norman
Hod Ha?sharon, Israel
? Since 30 March, each week has
seen killings of largely unarmed
protesters by Israeli snipers. The
position has been aggravated by
the provocation of the opening of
a new US embassy in Jerusalem,
hammering another nail into the
coffin of a moribund peace process.
The Independent Jewish Voices
steering group wishes to express our
horror at the flagrant disregard for
the human rights of the Palestinians
and the norms of international
law, and our support for those
many thousands who have been
demonstrating their opposition
around the world. We燾all upon the
Corbyn wise to keep his powder
dry over Brexit negotiations
Rafael Behr?s assessment of Jeremy
Corbyn?s position in relation to Brexit
(It?s becoming ever clearer that
Corbyn wants a hard Brexit, 15燤ay)
contains two assumptions that are
almost certainly wrong. First, if it
was good strategy a year ago for the
leader of the opposition to keep his
powder dry by outlining, but not
detailing, a broad preference for the
outcome, it remains good strategy.
Behr?s assumption is that Corbyn
should shift his ground because he
will not be able to hold his position
much longer. The fact that some
within Labour are beginning to
show signs of panic does not justify
a change of policy. We have to
remember that the negotiations are
being conducted by the government
(sadly), not by parliament.
So all opposition parties must wait
until some kind of deal is proposed,
and then go through the process of
The Guardian Wednesday 16 May 2018
Letters
Calls for inquiry into
Israel?s Gaza killings
putting forward amendments and
voting. We know this will not be
straightforward, or quick. We also
know parliament must be ready to
create hell if it does not get all the
time it needs to wrangle the proposed
deal into another form, or another,
or another. The desire to make some
kind of pre-emptive move at this stage
is understandable, but it should be
resisted, and Corbyn can resist.
Behr also seeks to paint Corbyn
with hard Brexit colours on the shaky
grounds that if he does not actually
oppose it he must approve of it.
Of燾ourse, there is Euroscepticism
in Labour ? why wouldn?t there be?
Caution should be part of any dealings
with EU institutions, and Labour
has no reason to embrace current
European economic orthodoxy, but
Behr should know Corbyn is not
planning to throw out the baby with
the bathwater. We may yet be landed
cYanmaGentaYellowbla
UK government to condemn the
actions of the Israeli authorities, to
demand an independent inquiry
into the use of force on the Gaza
border, to make clear that the UK
embassy will remain in Tel Aviv, and
to redouble all diplomatic efforts to
bring the occupation to an end.
Dr Anthony Isaacs, Dr Vivienne
Jackson, Dr Katy Fox-Hodess, Dr
Tamar Steinitz, Professor燡acqueline
Rose, Ann Jungman, Merav
Pinchassoff, Professor Adam Fagan,
Professor Francesa Klug
Independent Jewish Voices steering
group
? In the face of the bloodshed in
Gaza, too many in the west have
been quick to minimise or even
excuse the state-sanctioned murder
of unarmed protesters. The White
House labelled the innocent lives
lost at the hands of Israeli troops
as ?part of the problem?, as it
celebrated its embassy move. The
UK government and Labour Friends
of Israel blamed the unarmed
Palestinian people for daring to
protest against their repression and
raised the spectre of Hamas.
Greens will continue to support
the ideals of freedom, equality and
respect for international law. And
that includes supporting Palestinian
people marking the Nakba by
protesting against their illegal
oppressors. We support a two-state
The killing of over 50
demonstrators and the
thousands wounded
are reminiscent of the
Sharpeville Massacre
Avraham Burg and others
with a harder Brexit than anyone
imagined, not because of Labour?s
reticence, but because those who panic
will play into Jacob Rees-Mogg?s hands.
Michael Bowers
Talgarth, Breconshire
? Jeremy Corbyn is not renowned
for his political astuteness. But he
is a step ahead of Neil Kinnock.
Kinnock (Jeremy Corbyn must
change course on the EEA, says Lord
Kinnock, theguardian.com, 12 May) is
advocating a course of action, voting
to remain in the European Economic
Area, that would rip Labour apart. The
Tories would love to see Corbyn at war
with those Labour constituencies that
voted leave. Some Labour MPs would
relish the chance to get the boot in
too, accusing him of defying the will
of the people. Labour will be free to
propose a different course of action
when two conditions are fulfilled. The
government?s plan for Brexit must
be known. And it must be recognised
as disastrous. Until then Corbyn is
wisely keeping his powder dry.
David Butler
London
solution but, with Netanyahu being
appeased by the west at every turn,
this has never seemed so far away.
Keith Taylor MEP
Green party, South East England
? The true occupation army in
Gaza is the over 10,000 soldiers in
the Hamas militia. Recruitment is
helped by the terrible economic
conditions. Those conditions could
be better if the Hamas leaders
decided to cooperate with Israel
rather than to chase an ephemeral
dream of reclaiming Palestine and
killing all the Jews. Gaza has no real
clean water, no sewage system and
almost no electricity. Why? Because
Hamas spends whatever funding
it receives on arms and building
tunnels into Israel. There is another
way, but neither Hamas nor any
other Palestinian political leader
seems prepared to even talk about it,
much less act to bring it about.
Aryeh Wetherhorn
Elazar, West Bank
? Letters in Tuesday?s Guardian (15
May) cut through the pain, hate, lies
and misinformation about Israel/
Palestine in the space of few column
inches. Maybe there are enough
of us prepared to move on as Ehud
Barak proposed in July 1999, and
work towards a ?peace of the brave??
Joy Helman
London
? I was so annoyed by the editorial
and reporting in the Telegraph on
Gaza, that I ? a lifelong reader ? had
to buy the Guardian to get the
definitive report. Theirs showed
little sympathy with the sufferings
of Gaza. Your editorial (15 May) is a
masterpiece of prose; thundering
and ? considering the emotive
matter ? surprisingly restrained.
Barry Carroll
London
Haze and
hound
?This dog clearly
knew where he
was heading
on the beach
at St Annes,
Lancashire?
VICTORIA BUCHAN/
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Batteries included in
energy storage ideas
output and no coal, the peak demand
for gas-fired generation will be larger,
meaning we will need more plant.
Steve Bolter
Gestingthorpe, Essex
The WWF has been oversimplistic in
its argument that no further gas-fired
power stations are needed (Report,
14 May). The forecast increase in
renewable electricity production
is only just sufficient to balance
the closure of coal-fired electricity
generation and the fall in nuclear
generation. However, electricity
demand varies, and renewables are
intermittent. There has to be enough
capacity to meet demand at all times.
While pump storage systems and
batteries can store enough energy
to cope with short-term variations
in demand and the availability of
renewable generation, it would not be
environmentally friendly, efficient or
cost-effective to use such systems to
store energy from summer to winter,
or even to survive a long midwinter
period of high pressure over the North
Sea. We may not need more gas over
the year, but with reduced nuclear
? Your article (Hydrogen is solution
to excess electricity puzzle, say
engineers, 9 May) based on a report
by the Institution of Mechanical
Engineers, makes me wonder
whether the IMechE are in the
pocket of the gas industry. The best
electrolyser conversion efficiency I?ve
ever come across is about 0.76. If that
produces hydrogen from electricity
and it?s burned in a boiler with a gross
?efficiency? of 0.9, that?s 0.68 units of
heat per unit of electricity supplied.
The best lithium-ion batteries have
a round trip ?efficiency? of 0.89.
If爐hat?s fed to a heat pump with an
achievable coefficient of performance
of 3, that?s 2.67 units of heat per
unit of electricity supplied ? almost
four times as much as can be gained
from the hydrogen option. And the
infrastructure already exists.
Professor Chris Underwood
Northumbria University
Section:GDN 1J PaGe:7 Edition Date:180516 Edition:01 Zone:
Wednesday 16 May 2018 The Guardian
Sent at 15/5/2018 18:04
cYanmaGentaYellowbla
?
7
? guardian.letters@theguardian.com
? @guardianletters
Corrections and
clarifications
? An article about Tesla referred to
two crashes involving the company?s
?electric self-driving cars?. The cars
were electric but not self-driving
(Tesla plans restructure after
production doubts, 15 May, page 30).
? Our obituary was wrong to say
that Tessa Jowell was godmother
to one of Alastair Campbell and
Fiona燤illar?s children (14 May,
page� Journal).
Editorial complaints and corrections can be sent to
guardian.readers@theguardian.com or The readers? editor,
King?s Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU; alternatively
call 020 3353 4736 from 10am to 1pm Monday to Friday
excluding public holidays
The musical magic
of Lauren Zhang
Contrary to the assertion of David
Pollock (Letters, 14 May), the Church
of England has not at any stage
lobbied for the lifting of the faith cap.
The church is committed to serving
the whole community, and is working
to ensure more families in all areas
of the country have access to our
schools. Friday?s announcement does
not impact on this commitment, as
the majority of C of E school places are
allocated irrespective of faith.
Rev Nigel Genders
Chief education officer, C of E
? Marks and Engel writing
perceptively on English cricket in the
Guardian. Good job they didn?t confine
their interests to political philosophy
(I?m losing my religion, Sport, 12燤ay).
Splendid articles from both on the
terrible state of cricket caused by
poor燼dministrators in the ECB.
Keith Plaister
Chelmsford, Essex
Lives remembered, but lessons
still not learned, after Grenfell
I am disgusted but not surprised
at recent reports that the Hackitt
review of the building regulatory
system will not contain any major
changes (?We still have death
traps?: Grenfell survivors demand
ban on flammable cladding,
15燤ay). We never learn.
In 2003 government-sponsored
research into the quality of
passive fire protection (PFP) in
buildings included this comment
in its final report: ?Public safety
is being impinged by incorrect
PFP measures and we feel that a
disaster caused by accelerated or
unexpected fire spread could follow
if no action is taken to improve
initial standards and to define the
responsibility of building occupiers
to undertake correct maintenance.?
Since then we?ve suffered two
major fires and 78 deaths, yet ?we?
propose to leave the regulations as
they are, it seems. The construction
industry cannot be trusted to improve
standards, as doing what they know is
correct will be perceived to cost them
business. It is almost a year since
Grenfell, and it now looks as though
nothing meaningful will be done,
so it can all happen again as the PFP
industry warned almost 20 years ago.
David P Sugden
Former chairman, Passive Fire
Protection Forum
? Congratulations for your front
page, with the most stunning piece
of typography I have seen in a long
time (The lives of Grenfell Tower, 14
May). Having read every name, my
eyes were moist as I turned to page 6.
Robert Randall
Tweedmouth, Northumberland
? I was very moved by the Guardian?s
biographies of the Grenfell Tower
victims. It is precisely features like
these that make my subscription
worthwhile; I am so proud to read a
newspaper that places equal value
on爀ach and every person. Thank you
for celebrating their lives.
Name and address supplied
? Congratulations on your Grenfell
Tower coverage. Perhaps you can
follow it up with a similar blast for the
survivors. It is unbelievable that so
many of them are still in temporary
accommodation. Why are people
with influence in London not making
a huge fuss about this?
Joan Green
Bourn, Cambridgeshire
? The Grenfell Tower fire shocked
us燼ll, no matter where we lived,
and led to promises that in too many
cases are yet to be fulfilled. Let?s
hope that outstanding financial
issues, impacting on residents? safety
in other blocks clad with similar
materials can be resolved swiftly,
and certainly no later than 14 June.
Les Bright
Exeter, Devon
? Monday?s edition carried reviews
of a pop concert, the Eurovision song
contest and the Baftas, but not a single
line about Lauren Zhang, who on
Sunday became the Young Musician
of the Year with a performance of
Prokofiev?s 2nd Piano Concerto that
left everyone breathless.
Dan Zerdin
London
? Pleased to see your article about
the legendary John Simons (Arts, 14
May). I bought my first Field & Stream
Harrington from him in my local
Covent Garden shop in 1981 and it
remains a very wearable, if battered,
treasured possession. Every visit to his
emporium is a thrill. He is a mod god.
Max Bell
Thame, Oxfordshire
? After being lumped together with
the House of Lords (Letters, 12 May),
I?m off on the four counties ring.
And爐hat?s not a double entendre.
Ian Grieve
Gordon Bennett,
Staffordshire and Worcester canal
Established 1906
Country diary
Kit Hill and Metherell,
Tamar Valley
At dawn, birdsong floats up from
shrubby undergrowth towards
the cold summit of Kit Hill. Mist
lies in the lowest valleys and, like
the scattered enclaves of yellow
oilseed rape and plastic-covered
maize plantings, appears luminous
among the pale greens and blues of
the patchwork of fields and woods.
The first cuckoo call of the season
impels a brief runabout in honour of
family tradition to ensure another
year of liveliness ? although my
predecessors would have had no
need to come uphill and away from
the valley to hear this bird. The
sound of melodeon, trombone,
drum and bells echoes around the
mine-stack as the Cornish Wreckers
dance morris in celebration of May
and of ?winter gone away?.
Later, 750ft lower down, we
look back towards the bleak
top of that landmark from the
blossoming orchard of local
varieties, propagated, cared for and
documented by Mary and James
(my sister and brother-in-law).
Windblown petals drift on to sweet
vernal, dandelions and lady?s smock,
but cool weather has prolonged
flowering of cherry and pear. Close to
the sheltering hedge and deer fence,
cherry specimens are over 40ft tall
? a Fice originating from Boetheric,
Mazzard from Tutwell, the Upright
from New Park, Bullions from
Latchley and Beals Mill. Burcombes
feature the thickest clusters of
blossom and have characteristic
lumpy boles at junctions between
rootstocks and grafts.
A small horticultural tunnel, to
be netted later, contains cherries on
dwarfing rootstock, but if there is
a good set of fruit on the full-sized
trees there should be enough for
us and the birds. Leaves already
overgrow pear blossom, but Mary
is painting what she and James call
?Mrs Bomford?s tree? (its variety
is not yet formally identified),
which remains spectacular with
creamy blossom on wide-spreading
branches, different from the more
vertical forms of the Harvest, Green
Sweats and Chisel pears. Now sweetscented apple blossom emerges from
pink buds on Ben?s Red, Mrs Bull?s,
Listener, Hockings Green, Lizzy and
Tregonna King. Overhead a swallow
swoops, in need, like the flowery
canopy, of warmth and more insects.
Virginia Spiers
Twitter: @gdncountrydiary
ILLUSTRATION: CLIFFORD HARPER
Section:GDN 1J PaGe:8 Edition Date:180516 Edition:01 Zone:
Sent at 15/5/2018 18:29
cYanmaGentaYellowbla
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8
The Guardian Wednesday 16 May 2018
Obituaries
Tom Wolfe
American writer acclaimed
as a brilliant satirist for
The Bon?re of the Vanities
T
he writer Tom
Wolfe, who has
died aged 88, was
a great dandy, both
in his elaborate
dress and his neonlit prose. Although
he was in his late
50s when he became a bestselling
novelist, with The Bonfire of the
Vanities (1987), some 30 years
before that he was already famous
as a journalist, was indeed that
extremely rare thing, the journalist
as international celebrity.
It was a part Wolfe played up to,
wearing showy tailor-made white
suits, summer and winter, as well
as fancy headgear and shirts with
detachable collars. The overall
impression was of a fashion plate
from a bygone age. The sartorial
fireworks fitted in very well with
the highly eccentric literary style
Wolfe used and which made such
a name for him when he published
The Kandy-Kolored TangerineFlake Streamline Baby (1965),
which brought the world the first
news of the 1960s counterculture
in California.
The curious style came about by
chance. In 1963, commissioned to
write about custom cars for Esquire
magazine, Wolfe got as far as writing hurried notes and told his editor, Byron Dobell, to give them to
someone else because he could not
produce the finished piece. Dobell
read the notes and printed them as
they were.
The peculiar style, full of exclamation marks, words elongated for
special effect, and words in capital
letters, gave the impression of news
that was too hot for the simple
declarative sentence; also that it was
highly complicated to explain but
that Wolfe himself knew all there
was to know about it, and from the
inside. As the news was from the
counterculture or, later on, from the
world of the New York new rich, the
prose seemed to fit the passion.
The Bonfire of the Vanities, the
tale of the fall of a young Wall Street
trader, one of the self-styled ?masters of the universe?, was called the
?novel of the 1980s? and won Wolfe
a name as a brilliant satirist. The one
dark cloud in its success was that
the 1990 film of the book, directed
Wolfe in 2012.
Below, The Bonfire
of the Vanities
? the ?novel of
the 1980s? ? told
the tale of a Wall
Street trader. The
Right Stuff, 1979,
gave a non-fiction
account of the first
astronauts
MARK SELIGER/AP
by Brian De Palma, failed both critically and at the box office, in spite
of Tom Hanks playing the lead.
The other Wolfe book turned into a
movie fared much better. This was
The Right Stuff (1979), a non-fiction
account of the first astronauts. The
1983 film was made by Philip Kaufman and won four Oscars.
Fans had to wait 11 years for the
next novel, A Man in Full (1998),
a rather disjointed and over-long
look at the new south of the 90s.
This was attacked by John Updike,
Norman Mailer and John Irving.
Updike said it was not literature but
entertainment; Mailer described it
as like being made love to by a 300lb
woman (?Fall in love or be asphyxiated?) and Irving said simply: ?He
can?t fucking write.? Wolfe had a
good time counter-attacking. He
called them ?my three stooges?.
He could afford to be offhand with
his critics, for A Man in Full had
received an advance of $7.5m.
The wonderful early pieces
received nothing but praise. The
Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (1968)
was called an American classic, ?a
DayGlo book?, the Washington Post
said. It was the story of a cross-country trip in a bus by Ken Kesey, author
of One Flew Over the Cuckoo?s Nest,
and his spaced-out young followers,
the Merry Pranksters, all high on
LSD and passing it out free in glasses
of Kool-Aid.
Radical Chic and Mau-Mauing
the Flak Catchers (1970) comprised
more first-rate pieces of comic sociology, particularly the title story
about wealthy New York liberals
making fools of themselves throwing parties for the Black Panthers.
The Pump House Gang (1968) and
The
sartorial
fireworks
fitted in
well with
the highly
eccentric
literary
style
The Mid-Atlantic Man (1969) were
collections of articles; The New
Journalism (1973) an anthology; The
Painted Word (1975) art criticism;
From Bauhaus to Our House (1981)
architecture criticism; Ambush at
Fort Bragg (1997) a novella, a Rolling
Stone magazine serialisation then in
an audio-only version.
At the age of 73 and after suffering a heart attack and a quintuple
bypass, Wolfe surprised everyone
with I Am Charlotte Simmons
(2004), a brilliantly funny and
hard-hitting demolition job on
American higher education set in
a fictional Ivy League university in
Pennsylvania. Back to Blood (2012),
set in Miami and with a CubanAmerican cop as its lead character,
was described by the Guardian?s
reviewer as ?like a novel for the hard
of hearing, megaphone meets ear
trumpet?; The Kingdom of Speech
(2016) challenged theories of evolution and speech development.
Wolfe was born in Richmond,
Virginia. In later years he described
his father, Thomas, as an agronomist, but in the early years he had
called him ?a gentleman farmer?.
Wolfe was encouraged to write by
his mother, Louise, and at nine,
he tried his hand at biographies of
Napoleon and Mozart.
He went to a private day school,
St Christopher?s, in Richmond, and
then to Washington and Lee University, in Lexington, Virginia, where he
played baseball and edited the literary magazine Shenandoah. He told
me that he was very serious about
being a baseball pitcher and once put
on a tremendous amount of weight
in order to throw the ball harder.
After Washington and Lee, he went
to Yale and got a PhD in 1957 in American studies. He then found a job in
journalism on the Springfield Union
in Massachusetts. That is where I
first met him. It would be pleasant
to think that his colleagues all saw
what a success he would be, but this
is not true. We only saw that he was
different. This we put down to his
being a southerner, and at that time
in New England we were suspicious
of southerners, thinking they might
have a slave or two stashed away in
a backyard shed. His southern ways
were in fact sometimes shocking: he
told jokes about black people without
taking in the pained expressions of
his audience ? or perhaps he was
doing it on purpose to annoy us.
Early on, he demonstrated his unusual angle on stories, and it was not
always appreciated. Once he was sent
to cover an outdoor concert of classical music in the Berkshire mountains
and wrote a long piece about the
way people sat on the grass listening to it. This confused his editor at
the Springfield Union. Another time
he was covering an event at Mount
Holyoke College in nearby South
Hadley and wrote mainly about how
the president of the college held his
chin in a jut-jawed fashion while
speaking. The college was furious
and demanded an apology.
At this period he was spending
most of his free weekends in New
Section:GDN 1J PaGe:9 Edition Date:180516 Edition:01 Zone:
Wednesday 16 May 2018 The Guardian
Sent at 15/5/2018 18:30
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?
? obituaries@theguardian.com
? @guardianobits
York, taking drawing lessons from
a New Yorker artist. This interest
in cartooning remained all his life;
he published many of them and
held one-man shows. Wolfe left the
Springfield Union for the Washington Post in 1959; he then joined the
old New York Herald Tribune in 1962
and there his real career began.
He was surprisingly shy, and
when The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby was
published in the UK in 1966, he
insisted that I make the trip down
from Liverpool to be with him in
London. He put me up in Brown?s
Hotel in Mayfair. Nervous about
the launch party being given by his
publishers, Jonathan Cape, we went
out drinking all day long and for
some reason he started imitating
WC Fields and could not stop it. It
was amusing to read, in the newspapers reporting the launch, about his
extraordinary accent.
Although the book was picked
for the American Book of the Month
Club and earned him $600,000, he
was still very much a working journalist. The Herald Tribune called
him from New York and said he
must send them a story. He told me
next day how lucky he was to have
seen a man hit by a taxi in London.
The man was sitting in the street
nursing a broken leg and saying over
and over again: ?What a bore.? This,
Wolfe thought, would show New
York what a strange use of language
the English had.
Wolfe came to stay with me in
Liverpool and while there wrote
much of what became The MidAtlantic Man. Every morning he
went out in a suit and tie with a
packet of ginger nut biscuits to
sit in the Sefton Park palm house
writing. He wrote everything in
longhand first, using a fancy style
of calligraphy so that sometimes he
was getting only 14 words to a page.
Afterwards he would rewrite on a
typewriter, and never really took to
computers.
Wolfe was mistaken for a liberal
when he first started out, but his
ultra-conservatism later became
obvious. He not only supported
Ronald Reagan, calling him ?one of
the greatest presidents ever? but,
much worse to the east coast liberal
mind, he praised George W Bush.
When people said they would leave
the country if Bush was elected,
Wolfe said he might go to Kennedy
airport to wave them goodbye. He
thought Donald Trump ?a lovable
megalomaniac?, and, comparing
him to Reagan, concluded that ?brilliance is really not a requirement for
politicians?.
In 1978 he married Sheila Berger,
the art director at Harper?s magazine. She survives him, along with
their two children, Alexandra and
Tommy.
Stanley Reynolds
Margot Kidder
Actor best known for
her role as the reporter
Lois Lane in Superman
?Y
ou?ll believe a
man can fly,?
promised the
advertising
campaign
for the 1978
blockbuster
Superman: The
Movie. None of that technical razzledazzle would have counted for much,
though, without the lively rapport
between the film?s stars: Christopher
Reeve as Superman and his alter-ego
Clark Kent, and Margot Kidder, who
has died aged 69, as the go-getting,
chain-smoking reporter Lois Lane.
They brought a screwball vivacity
to the film. Her sassy performance
never allowed Lois to become
merely the love interest or a damsel
in distress, even when those were
her superficial functions in the
script. Lois was nobody?s fool, give
or take her inability, necessary to
the narrative, to spot that only a pair
of glasses and a Spandex bodysuit
distinguished Clark from Superman.
A highlight was Lois?s nighttime
tour above Manhattan (or Metropolis, as the film called it) on Superman?s arm. Their romance was
wisely placed at the centre of the
sequel, which was shot back-toback with the first film. Though
Kidder, never shy of speaking her
mind, bemoaned publicly the
sacking of the director Richard
Donner in favour of Richard Lester
for Superman II (1980), the second
picture was a superior showcase
for her range. Early scenes, as she
tries to confirm her newfound
suspicions that Clark and Superman
are one and the same by placing
herself in danger, ripe to be rescued,
are brimming with comic pizzazz.
Later, when Superman sacrifices his
powers in order to live with Lois as a
mortal, she plays this scenario with
tenderness and subtlety.
Her outspokenness about Donner?s
sacking cost her dearly. On Superman
III (1983), again directed by Lester, her
screen-time was drastically reduced
in favour of two new co-stars, Annette
O?Toole and Pamela Stephenson.
A change in producers meant she
was featured more prominently in
Superman IV: The Quest for Peace
(1987), but too late: not only was this
the weakest of the series, it also has
some claim on being one of the worst
films of that decade. (In one scene, a
bus station in Milton Keynes doubles
for the UN headquarters.)
Kidder was born in Yellowknife,
in Canada?s Northwest Territories, to
Jill, a teacher, and Kendall, a mining
engineer whose job demanded that
the family relocate regularly. She
attended 11 schools in around 12 years
and suffered emotional problems as
a teenager; at 14, she tried to take her
own life. Her interest in acting was
encouraged at a Toronto boarding
school, Havergal college.
?I thought in acting I could let my
real self out and no one would know
it was me,? she said. Two years after
graduating in 1966 she got her first
professional acting job, in the short
film The Best Damn Fiddler from
Calabogie to Kaladar (1969). Her
film debut was as a prostitute in the
comedy Gaily, Gaily (1969).
She began getting work in
Canadian TV series and relocated
to Los Angeles in 1970. She starred
opposite Gene Wilder in the gentle
comedy Quackser Fortune Has a
Thomas Kenne
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