Counterpoints

‘It is a common trap to believe that under the Prime Minister’s Etonian brio lie liberal convictions. Experience suggests otherwise. The only thing Johnson consistently stands up for is himself, and on that, he has indeed never compromised’

“Some doctors have an intuitive rapport. For others it’s a work in progress.”

“The top of the bookmark juts out from the pages of my copy of The Woodlanders like a tombstone marking the mortal remains of any hope I ever held of finishing the thing.”

“Michael Gove’s Wild Animals in Circuses Bill appears at first glance to be nothing more than his latest essay in exhibitionistic compassion. But is it a misreading to ascribe this picayune law-making to opportunistic big-heartedness?”

“At one point Norman Stone and Hugh Trevor-Roper both agreed to record a party political broadcast for UKIP which I had founded and led. Norman was too drunk to record his lines and Trevor-Roper had such dreadful toothache that he could not either. I still have that video with six failed attempts at speech by both of them”

“60 per cent of coppers are used only once before being consigned to a piggy bank. Clearly, few can bear to feel their pockets weighed down with coins of such small worth”

“Patrick Kavanagh wrote about an Ireland that “froze for want of Europe”. He was thinking of an Ireland that history had removed from the mainstream of European culture”