Scott Fitzgerald wrote; 'The rich are different to you and me.' to which Hemingway tartly replied; 'Yes - they've got more money'
Well I am not sure that's the whole truth. Knight Frank - the elite London based estate agents - have kindly sent me their lavishly illustrated Autumn catalogue featuring properties they are selling. The average price of of these places is around £10 million with a valuation of around £3.5k per sq. ft. being the seeming going rate in central London. Flicking through the tome I was struck by how outstandingly boring most of the interiors where and that something was missing. Then it came to me - there where no books or magazines anywhere to be seen. The rooms where all clinical and sterile, perhaps reflecting the mindsets of those who have the money to buy. No clutter, no cosiness and definitely no books.
So yes 'The rich are different from you and me' - but Hemingway was wrong- it's not just that 'they've got more money' it's that they never read a book, newspaper or magazine.
Devon & Cornwall Police inhabit a vast headquarters building on the outskirts of Exeter. When I was a small boy the then Devon County police operated extremely effectively from a building a fraction of the size and, what's more, the police where highly visible in the countryside and on the roads. Now the police are all but invisible. There must be a sort of 'parkinsons law' for police - the bigger the headquarters the fewer actual front line policemen there are.
I am writing this after chatting over a cup of coffee with someone who comes in and does the odd building job for me. Somehow we got onto the subject of drugs and he told me that he was horrified when his boys told him that drugs where openly traded at their secondary school. He demanded and interview with the Headmaster and asked him if he knew of it;
'Oh yes' was the answer ' but it is no worse than any other schools.'
That 's not the point my man answered; 'why don't the police do anything about it?
'Because the police are not allowed on the school premises unless they are invited in '
'So why don't you invite them in?'
And so on. Both the police and the headmaster knew of the problem, both had decided to do nothing about it. There is no better advert for private education than that. If that had been the headmaster of a public school the parent would have complained to the governors and he would have been dismissed the next day. Everybody knows that turning a blind eye to petty crime leads on to greater crime and encourages more crime yet here was the headmaster of a major secondary school doing just that. Worse the police where equally uninterested.
Well Hurrah for Putin - he seems to have brokered a deal which allows everybody to save face without anybody having to fire missiles at each other. That is a major achievement and. Now - hopefully - Cameron and Obama will leave Assad to get on with the task of winning his Civil War and stop flirting with the idea of supporting the opposition which - oddly - include Al Queda and other extreme Jihadist Muslim groups - which strangely - I thought we had been fighting against for the best part of the last decade or so!
Cameron's emotional demand for Parliament's sanction to bomb Syria was apparently fuelled by pictures of dead children - well excuse me but if pictures of dead children are now to become a primary reason for Britain's armed forces (which Cameron has spent the last three years emasculating) going to war then they are going to be very busy indeed in the future. Actually I think Prime Ministers and Presidents should be more driven by real politic of situations than by emotion especially when lives of our own young men are on the line.