Don’t play snooker

The Week Middle East - - News -

Ron­nie O’Sullivan is prob­a­bly the great­est snooker player of all time, says Matt Rudd in The Sun­day Times. The 40-year-old (be­low) played his first pro­fes­sional tour­na­ment at the age of 16, and has since bagged 28 rank­ing ti­tles. But he doesn’t ac­tu­ally en­joy the game. “It’s not an en­dor­phin sport,” he says. “It’s about con­trol­ling your emo­tions. A thought goes in and you go: ‘Shh!’ Then an­other. Then an­other. When you get back on the ta­ble, the only rea­son you pot is be­cause you left your emo­tions in your seat.”

That, com­bined with the con­stant tour­ing, can have a ter­ri­ble ef­fect on the psy­che: O’Sullivan has en­dured break­downs, drug abuse, al­co­holism and failed re­la­tion­ships. He would never want his own chil­dren to take up snooker. “Any other sport you like, I tell them: foot­ball, ten­nis, golf. Stay away from this game. Be­cause some­where down the line, you’re go­ing to wake up one day and think: ‘No thanks.’ Stuck in a room on your own, six days a week, five hours a day, not re­ally speak­ing to any­one. It ain’t very healthy for your de­vel­op­ment as a per­son.”

Martin on the hard stuff

Tim Martin is an ac­tual bar­room philoso­pher, says Decca Aitken­head in The Guardian. The founder and boss of the Wether­spoon’s pub chain made his first foray into pub­lic dis­course in 2002, when Bri­tain was fac­ing the prospect of join­ing the euro. Martin made what he calls “the ba­nal observation” that “ev­ery other cur­rency in the world has got a gov­ern­ment. The euro can’t work with­out a gov­ern­ment. I kept wait­ing for a Har­vard pro­fes­sor to come out of the wood­work and say: ‘I’ve never heard such ig­no­rance in my life.’ But they never did. So I just kept re­peat­ing it. I be­came some­one on the na­tional news, re­peat­ing the same phrase.” He chuck­les. “And in the end, the point was true.” Dur­ing the re­cent ref­er­en­dum, Martin cam­paigned for Brexit: not be­cause of im­mi­gra­tion, which he be­lieves has been hugely ben­e­fi­cial to Bri­tain, but be­cause of “the lack of democ­racy at the heart of the EU”. He was amazed by how few peo­ple on the Left seemed to agree. “The thing I can­not un­der­stand is that when I said I think democ­racy is cru­cial for the fu­ture of the world, I’d have thought peo­ple would pour out of the doors say­ing: ‘Yes! Tim is right!’ But peo­ple on the Re­main side just don’t seem to think like that. The emo­tion of peo­ple who’ve been to good uni­ver­si­ties, et cetera, is not that they owe every­thing to democ­racy, but that they owe every­thing to peo­ple like them, who are bet­ter able to run com­pa­nies, the civil ser­vice, uni­ver­si­ties, so­ci­eties in gen­eral.”

The fem­i­nist’s warn­ing

Camille Paglia is a fem­i­nist of the old school, says Emily Hill in The Spec­ta­tor. The New York-born es­say­ist and icon­o­clast has no time for safe spa­ces, trig­ger warn­ings or quo­tas. “I’m from an im­mi­grant fam­ily. The way I was brought up was: the world is a dan­ger­ous place, you must learn to de­fend your­self. You can’t be a fool.” Mod­ern par­ent­ing and campus pol­i­tics, she says, raise women in pre­cisely the op­po­site mould: cos­seted, pro­tected from any­thing dif­fi­cult or dan­ger­ous, taught to fix­ate on their own vic­tim­hood. “We are rock­et­ing back­wards here to the Vic­to­rian pe­riod, with this be­lief that women are not ca­pa­ble of mak­ing de­ci­sions on their own. This is not fem­i­nism – which is to achieve in­de­pen­dent thought and ac­tion. There will never be equal­ity of the sexes if we think that women are so hand­i­capped they can’t look af­ter them­selves.” David Tang sets a lot of store by ap­pear­ances. The 62-year-old en­tre­pre­neur – said to be the best-con­nected man in Bri­tain – has just writ­ten a book on eti­quette, Rules for Mod­ern Life, pro­vid­ing tips on such dilem­mas as when it’s ac­cept­able to wear flip-flops, and which colour can­dles to buy. “I have black can­dles, for two rea­sons,” he told Nick Cur­tis in The Times. “In sup­port of the black race, and not to be com­mon. Red is be­yond the pale. White is very com­mon. Green, very com­mon, though dark green is OK. Blue is ex­tremely naff.” This is not just snob­bery, Tang in­sists: codes of dress and be­hav­iour ex­ist to help hu­mans rub along to­gether. “An­cient peo­ples [recog­nised] the im­por­tance of dress­ing up prop­erly, go­ing through rit­u­als, do­ing things in style… It mat­ters to civil­i­sa­tion as a whole that man­ners and style should be kept up to speed, so we don’t for­get the im­por­tance of be­ing con­sid­er­ate.” Over the years, Tang’s met ev­ery­one of note – and found that style of­ten re­flects char­ac­ter. “Robert Mu­gabe, he had very bad tai­lors. His shoul­der pads were out there and very heavy, en­tirely un­suit­able for a hot cli­mate, as he should re­ally have known. Kim Jong Un gave me the name of his tai­lor, who made me a suit like his: a ghastly shitty brown with a zip up the mid­dle, short sleeves and very un­flat­ter­ing trousers. I can’t imag­ine when I’d ever wear it.” “On the one hand, Labour have Sir Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit sec­re­tary, foren­si­cally prob­ing for flaws in Brexit. And on the other, they have John McDon­nell, the shadow chan­cel­lor, who said this week that ‘it’s time we were all more pos­i­tive about Brexit’. What Labour have achieved should be im­pos­si­ble. Yet some­how they’ve man­aged it. They’ve con­vinced peo­ple who are pro-Brexit that Labour are anti-Brexit – and con­vinced peo­ple who are anti-Brexit that Labour are pro-Brexit. Or to put it an­other way: they’re alien­at­ing both the 52% and the 48%. And be­com­ing the party of the 0%.” Michael Dea­con in The Daily Tele­graph

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