The Playwright, The Lawyer and The Poet.

First, the playwright, Sean O'Casey, whose 'Juno and the Paycock' ends with: 'The whole world's in a terrible state of chassis.' So it remains.

In Washington, thanks to Donald Trump, the wheels are coming off the chassis. Rex Tillerson, the Secretary of State, has described his boss as a fucking moron. With respect to Mr Tillerson, a lawyer once came up with something even more appropriate. This was F Lee Bailey, a notorious American trial advocate. While defending the Boston Strangler, a serial killer of yesteryear, he described his client as an uncontrollable vegetable. We now have a second such vegetable, as President of the United States.

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Marcus Aurelius and Bean-Sprouts

Why is it that meditation has such negative connotations in the West? When I told my neighbour at a Sunday lunch that I was going on a 7 day silent meditation retreat, he erupted and said it should be in the same box as Chiropody and Morris dancing. Furious, he couldn’t understand why on earth I would want to go on such a thing. On pressing him, I established that he had never tried meditation himself. So even before I set off, I was interested to understand why it produces such strong reactions in people, many of whom, like him, are speaking solely on the basis of invincible ignorance.

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Sundry gropings- and a grown-up

The noise from the US mounts, with the gropings of Harvey Weinstein jostling with the news that Secretary of State Tillerson called President Trump ‘a fucking moron’. In Europe, the Dutch have finally formed a new coalition government after 208 days, a process that Germany will manage in shorter order, while breakaway Catalonia is engaged in a Goyaesque slugging match with the rest of Spain. Brexit continues to elude detailed definition.

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Get a Grip or Go

It would be wrong to describe the Government and the Prime Minister as pathetic. Pathetic comes from pathos, something inviting sympathy. But this is not a case deserving of sympathy. The appropriate word is not pathetic. It is bathetic. This Government is wallowing in bathos.

Let us start with the most important issue of all: Brexit. Clearly, the UK faces a choice between maximising sovereignty or maximising access. The Chancellor seems to have become the leader of the access camp. The harder Brexiteers accuse him of wanting to shadow EU regulations in the way that Nigel Lawson shadowed the Deutschmark in the late Eighties. That is an interesting comparison, because back then, the growing division between Chancellor Lawson and Premier Thatcher brought about his resignation and gravely weakened her. There was an obvious conclusion. Unless the PM and the Chancellor are of one mind on all the most important questions - at least in public - the Government will be in big trouble. 

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Kurds and Catalans

The British have a long history of sympathizing with underdogs. The Hungarian revolutionary Laslo (or Louis) Kossuth was feted when he visited Britain in 1851. By contrast, furious brewery workers pursued his nemesis, the Austrian general Haynau, along Borough High Street when he came to London a few years later.

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