Allsopp’s iPad rage is a normal display of parental defeat
The TV presenter Kirstie Allsopp has revealed that during the summer she got so fed up with her two children, aged 11 and 9, using their iPads when they weren’t supposed to that she smashed them – the iPads, not the children – against the kitchen table. Predictably, this has brought the thought police out in force, with many chipping in on Twitter to comment on Allsopp’s lack of parenting skills and how damaging it must have been for the children to see their mother lose her temper. I dare say even Allsopp wouldn’t rate this as her finest hour, but – the expense apart – I can’t really see that much harm has been done. It’s no big deal for a child to see a parent lose it from time to time and, after the initial surprise, Allsopp’s kids probably chalked up the whole experience as a victory for themselves.
My own children always liked to test our patience and see if they could drive a wedge between my wife and me. And as they grew older their methods became ever more sophisticated. Their highlight came a few years back when we were all in the car and I happened to ask who they felt was the moral compass of the family. They both said I was and my wife was first incredulous, then furious. She has still never forgiven them and the family dynamic has never been the same since.
There are times when it’s sheer heaven to be a political sketch writer. Just imagine being invited to an event where a dozen or so of the people you would least trust to run even a neighbourhoodwatch scheme competently try to explain how they would run the country after Brexit. The occasion was grandly entitled Economists for Free Trade but the second “s” in economists was completely redundant as there was only one in the room.
Patrick Minford – a man whose strongest selling point is that he is invariably wrong – was keen to share the good news that he had seen into the future and guessed that Britain would be £1tn better off from telling the EU to sod off without a deal. At which point Boris Johnson, who had shambled into the room five minutes late, promptly appeared to doze off. The narcolepsy appeared to be catching as it wasn’t long before I noticed that a couple of other members of the Provisional wing of the European Research Group were snoring away contentedly. Others merely held their hands in despair. It was a moment of realisation and hubris. A time when the hardcore Brexiters realised that none of their numbers added up and that their leader-in-waiting was a straw man. And a time when Boris realised both that he had staked his career on the losing side and that even his commitment to his own ambition was wavering. Happy days.
The actor Mark Wahlberg has released details of the daily regime he put himself through in preparation for his role in the forthcoming film Mile 22.
Each day he would wake at 2.30 in the morning and no minute went unaccounted for – time spent mainly in the gym or having quality time with his own ego – before he took himself off to bed at precisely 7.30pm. There were a few anomalies in the schedule. He managed to take a 90-minute shower between 6am and 7.30am – something that’s almost impossible for most ordinary household heating systems, unless he spent 75 minutes of that time under a stream of cold water. He also managed to get his golf done and dusted in just 30 minutes – the time it takes most professionals to get out of the car and make it to the first tee.
But all in all there was nothing you wouldn’t class as entirely normal for someone who has spent the past 20 years living in LA. Except for one thing. Where was Wahlberg’s time with his shrink? Doesn’t every self-respecting Hollywood A-lister have a therapist? Personally, I would consider it a must. My own day would start rather differently. Wake up at 2.30am. Unable to get out of bed because I am feeling too anxious. Get more anxious about feeling anxious. At 3.00am, admit to myself I have failed at the day already.
The Labour party has been quite protective of Diane Abbott since she got all her numbers hopelessly wrong in a radio interview about policing during last year’s general election campaign, so I wasn’t entirely surprised to receive an email saying that the broom cupboard that had been hired for her speech on immigration was oversubscribed and that I wasn’t invited after all. I was more taken aback when a lobby colleague later tweeted to say there were at least 20 free seats at the event.
It seems that Diane’s maths still isn’t all it might be. Though it wasn’t just Labour that was being a bit clueless. Questions in the House of Commons for Penny Mordaunt, the women and equalities minister, were delayed for eight minutes as the Tory whips tried to work out exactly where she was. Eventually a sheepish junior minister had to admit that Mordaunt wasn’t going to bother to turn up as she was attending an emergency cabinet meeting on Brexit. This might have been a rather more credible excuse had not Liam Fox, the international trade secretary, found time to leave cabinet for his departmental questions just half an hour earlier. The thought occurred that possibly Theresa May had considered Mordaunt’s contributions to cabinet rather more valuable. With Dr Liam Fox, parliament’s loss has been the medical profession’s gain.
One of the highlights of the academic year – if I’d been bright enough I’d have loved to be a university lecturer – are the Ig Nobel awards, whose purpose is to publicise research that had mysteriously slipped under the radar of other more high-minded organisations by “honouring achievements that first make you laugh and then make you think”.
Last night the 2018 prizewinners were announced and proved as entertaining as ever. Among other things, we learned that human flesh isn’t that high in nutritional value – bad news for cannibals; that chimps like to imitate humans just as frequently as humans imitate chimps – chimps in Africa are presumably glued to Bodyguard, imagining it to be a new series of Living Planet III; and that the best way to pass a kidney stone is to take several rides on a rollercoaster. Who knew kidney stones could be terrified into coming out?
My favourite was the paper from four academics at the Queensland University of Technology in Australia who confirmed what I had already suspected. That most people feel completely defeated by large instruction manuals, seldom bother to read them in full and thereby fail to make the best of their new gizmos. My experience with my own TV backs this up. I never use more than three buttons on my three remote controls. I live in terror of accidentally pressing a different one, being confronted with a new screen and not being able to get back to the programme I want to watch.
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PHOTOGRAPHS: DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/ GETTY IMAGES; ALEXEI NIKOLSKY/AP