Disasters of the week
Flooding in Texas (at least 39 dead); flooding in India, Nepal and Bangladesh (at least 1,200 dead). Media reporting of the American disaster has been extensive compared with the meagre coverage of the much greater Asian calamity. Meanwhile, there continues to be little interest in the afflictions of Sierra Leone, where a mudslide in the
capital, Freetown, on 14 August was originally thought to have claimed 450 lives. This week the death toll was revised to 'more than 1,000,' although according to an official in Regent, the area on the outskirts of Freetown where the mudslide hit, the exact number of dead may never be known. The capital is notorious for unregulated building, and the
government of the country has been criticised for failing to learn from past disasters, yet the UK media have largely ignored the story.
Phrase of the week
'Disaster chic': the first lady’s outfit on her arrival in Houston.
Subtitle of the week
'Harry Kane' for hurricane (BBC). Better than Harvey. Anything had to be better than Harvey.
The week when something happened on a Saturday
It is a law of journalism that nothing ever happens on a Saturday, which means that the front pages of Sunday newspapers are full of political speculation and celebrity gossip. Last Saturday, though, something did happen: eight people were killed in a crash on the M1. Yet only one of the Sundays made it the lead, while others relegated the carnage to an inside page. There is no suggestion that the curious downgrading of the story was in any way connected to the fact that none of the victims happened to be white, middle-class Brits.
Alarm call of the week
The North Korean missile over Japan early on Tuesday morning. The natives were advised to duck for cover, which must have been a source of comfort.
Who's furious this week?
According to our ever-vigilant press, it’s none other than us, the British people. Those nasty Europeans have dared to suggest that the Brexit talks aren’t going anywhere and that we 'must start negotiating seriously,' and we're jolly well fizzing about it.
Big mouth of the week (lifetime achievement award)
Liam Fox with his helpful talk of Brussels 'blackmail'.
Cliff edge of the week
The one Labour said it hoped to avoid by keeping Britain in the EU single market for a transition period after Brexit. Twenty five years would do nicely.
Crimes of the week: could they by any chance be related?
Two thousand wild oysters were stolen from the shore at Loch Ryan, while a large number of gender-fluid pants were nicked from the back of a lorry in Barnsley. If you happen to see anyone wearing gender-fluid pants and tucking into a hearty lunch of wild oysters, under no circumstances approach them. Instead, contact your local police station and discover that it closed two years ago.
Solecism of the week
The Daily Telegraph rebranded itself as a newspaper which considers words 'powerful’. Its editor, Chris Evans, introducing this new radical new idea to the paper’s bemused readership, wrote: 'The Telegraph hopes to give a rounded view. Of course it is not neutral. It has its own perspective. It means to.' Means to what? Evans didn't
say. But the striking image on the front page of a scantily clad dancer called Molly told us everything we needed to know about the paper's impressive commitment to the power of words.
Aren’t politicians strange?
Theresa May declared to general incredulity that, having single-handedly cost her party a parliamentary majority with her folie de grandeur, she intends to continue as prime minister beyond the next general election. From the usual strong field, she wins the coveted parchment awarded to the delusionist of the week.
There was also the invariably strange case of Nicola Sturgeon, who, having long clamoured for a dedicated Scottish TV channel, assured an audience at the Edinburgh Television Festival that the BBC’s atttempt to create one would leave the nation 'short-changed.' The first minister, at another of her festival gigs, confided that she felt 'upset' about being criticised for not smiling, the truth being that she seldom appears in the public prints unsmiling, except when she is photographed eating, a task best accomplished straight-faced. From Edinburgh, the first ministerial limousine headed for the unsuspecting village of Monkton, where Ms Sturgeon addressed a glum audience of Ayrshire workers (for proof of how glum, see the hilarious pic on insider.co.uk). She exhorted them that the Scottish economy must do better – presumably assisted by a state guardian for every business.
Finally there was the resignation of the Scottish Labour leader, Kezia Dugdale, who recently divulged that she was 'in a relationship' with a nationalist MSP, Jenny Gilruth. Her discovery that there is more to life than politics should have come as no surprise to anyone, apart from Ms Dugdale herself, who took the job two years ago apparently unaware that there is more to life than politics.
Weirs of the week
Not for the first time this prestigious award goes to the lottery winners from Largs, who have donated £4.5m to the SNP and could justifiably claim to have bought the party.
It's a bridge. Get over it.
According to the first minister, an international authority in such matters, the Queensferry Crossing (so-called) is 'the greatest bridge in the world.' The impressionable Scottish media were duly impressed by the official boast that it could last 'as long as 150 years,' which seemed hardly worth bragging about considering the longevity of such superior constructions as the New Brig in Ayr (built 1788, still going strong).
Verdict of the week
The sheriff who heard the fatal accident inquiry into the death of a 12-year-old girl at Liberton High School in Edinburgh decided that 'lateral force generated by the innocent high-spirited behaviour of pupils' may have destabilised a gymnasium wall and caused it to collapse. There was, however, no suggestion in the judgement that such innocent high-spirited behaviour might be moderated in future. Bit much to ask, perhaps.
Narcissists of the week
(1) President Macron of France spent £23,500 on make-up in his first three months in office. His staff confirmed the figure, explaining mysteriously that a ‘contractor’ had had to be called in ‘as a matter of urgency.’
(2) Our very own Eck, who is threatening to go on tour with his one-man show, 'Salmond Unleashed,' having signally failed to unleash any great secrets during his best-selling run on the Fringe. Today: Edinburgh. Tomorrow: Ecclefechan.
Good person of the week
Jeannie Rousseau, who has died at the age of 98, joined the French resistance when she was 20 and became a spy. She learned through contact with German officers vital information about a secret weapons programme for making long-range bombs. Rousseau, when she was asked why she agreed to become an agent, replied: 'Because I was there. And because I was very young. Resistance is a state of mind. We can exercise it at any moment.'
Good news of the week
It will be five years before the next Diana tribute fest, including such well-loved features as (a) She was bumped off; (b) She wasn't bumped off; (c) She changed Britain forever; (d) She didn't change Britain at all.
Bores of the week
A runaway victory for the giant panda. Friday 25 August: 'Jian Tian could deliver today' (Metro). Saturday 26 August: Jian Tian couldn't.
The 'fight of the century' between Floyd Mayweather (no relation to Theresa Maybot) and some tattooed Irish person.
The heatwave we didn't get; the football transfer window.
Pain of the week
Andy Murray’s sore back.
Optimist of the week
The passenger on the sleeper from London to Penzance who told Visit Cornwall: 'I've never locked my door – you live in hope on the Night Riviera.'
Alien of the week
Baffled by the colossal stupidity of the human race, our summer visitor has returned with relief to his distant galaxy, but will make occasional appearances on Planet Earth assuming we haven't succeeded in blowing ourselves to bits.
While the streets of Houston were paralysed by the floodwaters of Hurricane Harvey, one doctor canoed his way to hospital to perform an urgent procedure. Dr Stephen Kimmel's home in Dickinson, Texas, was beginning to flood when he received a call about a 16-year-old boy who required immediate surgery at Clear Lake Regional Medical Centre, a 20-minute car journey away. With the help of two volunteer firefighters and a canoe, he paddled against the currents and even walked the last mile of his journey waist-deep in water to the hospital where he successfully operated on the teen.
In India, a police officer has been commended after risking his life to carry a live bomb away from a school of 400 children. Constable Abhishek Patel discovered the 10kg artillery shell near a school in the village of Chitora and ran with it over his shoulder for a kilometre before depositing it in an uninhabited area. Talking to New Delhi Television, Officer Patel said: 'I thought that 400 lives are much more valuable than a single life.’ He and his team have been praised for their bravery and the 12-second clip of him running with the 12-inch bomb has gone viral.
The small town of Gesten in Denmark hosted its own Pride party at the weekend in response to a letter that called homosexuals 'devils’. Anni Grimm, a member of the far-right Danish People’s Party, published a letter in which she decried 'the provocative sexual appearances’ of homosexuals, lesbians and other minority groups who 'fight bravely for their "rights".' In response, the town organised its own Pride march to celebrate diversity and disassociate itself from Ms Grimm’s remarks in the media. Danish television station TV Syd reported that Ms Grimm responded to the event by stating that she was in favour of sexual freedom, 'but I also think there should be a limit.’
Twenty-nine years after a car accident that left her without speech or mobility, a violinist has performed in concert once again with her best friend. Rosemary Johnson was a leading member of the Welsh National Opera Orchestra when she was involved in a devastating car crash that left her brain damaged. Thanks to the efforts of a 10-year project led by Plymouth University and the Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability in London, Ms Johnson can play music with her mind using cutting-edge technology, and was finally able to perform with Alison Balfour of the Bath Philharmonia.