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More Political Hypocrisy, More Political Idiocy & the Badass Queen

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Some days you scan the morning news and the sheer hypocrisy and idiocy of our political leaders simply stuns you. My last posting was over the gall of political leaders turning up in France to march for free speech while, back home, they were busy torturing, jailing, flogging (a Saudi Arabian speciality) or even murdering people for speaking out.

Subsequently it’s been the utter cynicism of assorted leaders of the free world singing the praises of the recently deceased Saudi monarch King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. It’s a bad case of Sucking up to the Saudis according to Mark Beeson, Professor of International Politics at University of Western Australia writing in The Conversation. An article headed by the infamous photo of the late king and George W Bush about to have a smooch.

Meanwhile in Australia our hapless Prime Minister Tony Abbott – who is rapidly becoming notorious for his medal winning ability to open his mouth and insert his foot regularly and to great depths – decided to celebrate Australia Day by giving Prince Philip (aka the Duke of Hazard) an Australian knighthood. They were dumped decades ago, reinstated by the tin-eared Mr Abbott and now handed out to someone who is A. not Australian and B. a joke in his own country. Still it’s given countless columnists, editorial writers and cartoonists plenty of material to work with.

Ever the DiplomatStill there is a member of the British royal family who knew how to deal with the Saudis. In former Saudi ambassador Sherard Cowper-Coles’s memoir Ever the Diplomat he wrote:

You are not supposed to repeat what the Queen says in private conversation. But the story she told me on that occasion was one that I was also to hear later from its subject – Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia – and it is too funny not to repeat. Five years earlier, in September 1998, Abdullah had been invited up to Balmoral, for lunch with the Queen. Following his brother King Fahd’s stroke in 1995, Abdullah was already the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia. After lunch, the Queen had asked her royal guest whether he would like a tour of the estate. Prompted by his Foreign Minister, the urbane Prince Saud, an initially hesitant Abdullah agreed. The royal Land Rovers were drawn up in front of the castle. As instructed, the Crown Prince climbed into the front seat of the front Land Rover, with his interpreter in the seat behind. To his surprise, the Queen climbed into the driving seat, turned the ignition and drove off. Women are not – yet – allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, and Abdullah was not used to being driven by a woman, let alone a queen. His nervousness only increased as the Queen, an Army driver in wartime, accelerated the Land Rover along the narrow Scottish estate roads, talking all the time. Through his interpreter, the Crown Prince implored the Queen to slow down and concentrate on the road ahead.

The paragraph has been repeated regularly in recent days including by Mother Jones with the headline: ‘Badass Feminist Queen Elizabeth II Gave Saudi Arabia’s King a Lesson in Power’

Ever the Diplomat

More Political Hypocrisy, More Political Idiocy & the Badass Queen

27 January 2015 | Culture

Some days you scan the morning news and the sheer hypocrisy and idiocy of our political leaders simply stuns you. My last posting was over the gall of political leaders turning up in France to march for free speech while, back home, they were busy torturing, jailing, ...

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Charlie Hebdo, Hypocrisy & Saudi Arabia

16 January 2015 | Culture

As Marc Lynch, a professor at George Washington University, summed it up: ‘Glad so many world leaders could take time off jailing and torturing journalists and dissidents to march for free expression in France.’ Photo: Raif Badawi © Juan Osborne for Amnesty Internati...

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IMG_0715 - salad nicoise

Summing up 2014 – restaurants

12 January 2015 | Living

I’ve run through my favourite theatre, films, hotels and books of 2014 – now on to the restaurants.▲ Ivan Justo in Havana The best – amazingly the year’s most interesting dining experiences were in Havana. A batch of places with interesting food, interesting décor ...

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Spoiled Brats

Summing up 2014 – Books

11 January 2015 | Media

I’ve run through my favourite theatre, films and hotels of 2014. Here are some of the book favourites: Travel Books – I met William Blacker while I was in Transylvania last year, so reading Along the Enchanted Way, his colourful account of his love affair with Roma...

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IMG_7787 - Tony in Penang - 270

Summing up 2014 – hotels

9 January 2015 | Living

I've covered film and theatre, now it's the hotels of 2014. Industrial Chic in the US – it’s a currently popular theme and there were three notable hotels in the category. First of all Ace Hotel in New York (20 W 29th St, New York, NY 10001) Coming back to W29th St...

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Summing up 2014 – the theatre

8 January 2015 | Culture

I’ve covered films, now the theatrical highlights of the year from Melbourne, London and New York: Britain: politics & the royal family – Handbagged was kind of Audience.2, ie the weekly meetings between the Queen and her Prime Minister, but just the one PM, Ma...

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IMG_6700 - Rome, Piazza Navona - 540

Summing up 2014 – first of all the films

7 January 2015 | Culture

I'm going to run through my movie going (about two dozen of them), plays at the theatre (similar number), interesting hotels, interesting restaurants and anything else I can think of. Best hotel film – Grand Budapest Hotel – wonderful – which was pretty much the s...

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Consolations of the Forest

30 December 2014 | Culture

In Consolations of the Forest French author Sylvain Tesson heads off for a five month stay in a cabin on the shores of Lake Baikal in Russia – a retreat into the Siberian forest. It left me mildly disappointed. It sets out to be lyrical, to observe the land and nature...

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Suspended Sentences

Suspended Sentences – Patrick Modiano

29 December 2014 | Culture

This year’s Nobel Prize for Literature went to Frenchman Patrick Modiano and, as so often with the literature prize, I’m not alone in never having heard of him. ‘Very well known in France, hardly at all outside the country,’ is the comment. In fact most of his books a...

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That's China

That’s China

25 December 2014 | Culture

Mark Kitto started a what’s on magazine for expatriates in Guangzhou in the late 1990s, expanded it to That’s Shanghai and then That’s Beijing and then had the whole business taken away from him. One day he was locked out of his own office and told that despite all th...

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