When I was nine years old, someone told me that in the 1980s, “Russia” had invaded and occupied Afghanistan. I couldn’t believe it! Really?! As soon as I could I went upstairs to my room and located my blow up globe, one of my most prized possessions. Tracing my finger around Eurasia I hit upon Central Siberia and made my way down through the dusty Steppes to Afghanistan. My suspicion was confirmed: such a thing was crazy! The logistics seemed impossible to me, and so therefore, on the spot, and with no further investigation or deduction, I concluded that the said person had been lying to me as some sort of sick joke.
Given that almost 27 million Brits — well, Englanders — watched their team’s losing World Cup semi-final against Croatia, there must be some lessons to be learned. Thanks to the gods of political coincidence, the main learning came swift and fast. In the aftermath of their victory it emerged that Croatian captain Luka Modric had accused English journalists and pundits of showing a lack of respect to Croatia’s players and revealed that his teammates had used that criticism to motivate them to their 2-1 victory against England in their World Cup semi-final. As one Brussels-based British EU insider put it, it is not just in football that this complacency, this exceptionalism, this disrespect for one’s opponents that lets Britain down and motivates the other team. “If Croatian footballers can read UK newspapers then, guess what, so can the EU’s Brexit negotiators.”
Donald Trump on Monday night chose Brett Kavanaugh, a judge on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, to replace Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court. His views on executive power may continue to worry liberals as the Robert Mueller investigation unfolds. In a 1998 Georgetown Law Journal article titled, “The President and the Independent Counsel,” written shortly after his service to Starr, Kavanaugh wrote that the independent counsel should be appointed by the president and approved by Congress, not by a panel of judges, to shore up the position’s constitutionality. This would have somewhat weakened the position’s independence relative to the executive; the independent counsel statute has since lapsed and the position no longer exists.
After spending her twenties helping create other people's dreams in the film industry and her thirties working full-time for the NHS, Ruth Steadman's forties are all about following her own heart, balancing her work as a private CBT therapist with my writing and other passions. She is endlessly inspired by human narratives, emotional authenticity, and courageous and creative full engagement with living. In her free time you will most frequently find her in Italy (the inspiration for my blog Vivere Ad Alta Voce), learning contemporary dance, and dabbling in interior design.
There are certain locations around the globe that come to us through tourists, visitors to the lands – Tokyo, India, Thailand, Hawaii – whose identities, though vividly their own, are delivered back to Britain, the US, to Europe, transmuted by romanticism, prejudice, ideas of grandeur. For those of us born beyond their borders, these are places stitched together from the experiences of foreigners. In the case of Cuba, and its infamous capital, perhaps it was Greene who established it as it stands today in our culture, or perhaps it was America, embedding their neighbours in a narrative of despised Communism, and South American hedonism.
Manu Joseph started his novelist career with a bang: his 2010 debut, Serious Men, won that year’s Hindu Best Fiction Award. An examination of caste in contemporary India, the novel was praised for its discussion of the reality of living as a Dalit; in doing so, Joseph crossed lines of language, as the lower castes are often excluded from Indian literature written in English. It is no surprise that Joseph’s latest, Miss Laila, Armed and Dangerous, continues on the same socially aware path, tackling racism, poverty, police malpractice and chauvinism, to mention but a few of its themes. Nor has Joseph grown wary of crossing lines and opting for provocative solutions. The novel’s social commentary gains extra momentum – and, undoubtedly, some unhappy audiences – by drawing no lines between fact and fiction.
Hereditary follows a family who have recently lost their somewhat difficult matriarch following a long, debilitating illness. In the wake of this elusive grandmother's demise, strange occurrences start to trouble the family and it isn't long before they are left to question what legacy has been bequeathed to them. Eventually driven to the brink of madness by the tragedy which seems to haunt their every move, the family begins to turn on themselves and each other, wrestling with the terrifying truth. On the face of it Hereditary is set up as a classic horror movie, with strange goings on and bumps in the night aplenty coupled with an abundance of strangers with rictus grins that may or may not have something to do with the apparently ghostly goings on.
The Tory party is at war. It is a sneaky, nasty little war. In 1995, John Redwood, then the Cabinet’s most junior eurosceptic, resigned to lay out a series of ideas and different vision when he challenged John Major for the leadership; in 2018, the European Research Group promises a resignation a day until Theresa May abandons her Chequers plan. All may be fair in love and war, but the British public are ill-served by rebels who could present policy but dare not. That is - after all - what Remain-inclined Tories did by presenting amendments to legislation. The Hard Brexiters don’t have policies though. They have adjectives: proud, determined etc etc etc. The trouble is adjectives don’t protect jobs.
The glee with which I watched the Croatian team beat back the Russians from victory last Saturday cannot begin to be measured. Think of poor Dawn Sturgess, surely not the first victim of Russian aggression in our country of this decade or the last, but also think of the doping and of the threat to the integrity of our democracy. It meant far more to me than England’s 2-0 win against Sweden—as great as that was—because it showed that fascist kleptocracy does not (always) pay.