So, I came to Rome … Wandering around on my own, today, I felt like Julia Roberts in Eat Pray Love. I said I felt like Julia Roberts! Actually, watched that film again just recently. Perhaps that was all the push I needed to book my last-minute flight; well, that and Giorgia Meloni. Now sworn in as the first female Prime Minister of Italy, I wish she was British! What an absolute mess of a country the UK is, now. Nobody fit for office, at all. I thought, for a moment, Boris was going to rally and, like his hero, Churchill, return to power for a second time but Sunak, having brought him down, is like a terrier down a rabbit hole. Nothing and nobody will thwart his ambition now. Mind you, Basil Brush would be better than Liz Truss – and talking of Basils, what about Basil Fawlty? What I would give to see that … Meantime, John Cleese is joining the team at GB News. Something to look forward to. Humour in the darkness.
Anyone feel sorry for Liz Truss? I suppose one should. I mean, embarrassing doesn’t cut it! The shortest-serving prime minister in British history, she was forced to resign following a day of absolute mayhem as ministers went into meltdown amidst slurs of jostling and bullying, ostensibly, over a vote for fracking/confidence. Her arrogant demeanour never slipped, however, as she pranced to the lectern outside No.10 to announce her resignation. Devoid of contrition following her far-reaching ineptitude, her short speech merely summarised what, to her mind, were her achievements, that characteristic smirk ever present. She had desperately tried to mould herself into another Maggie, even attempting to drop the tone of her voice, but, lacking any presence or charisma, she convinced nobody. I feel for her two daughters, sixteen and thirteen-years-old. Bearing witness to their mother’s shattered dreams, there is no escaping the embarrassment they must ride out amidst their peers. Oh, not forgetting, the second move in six weeks! Posters down, posters up, posters down … “Mummy, can you remind me where we’re living this week?’!
There is something which will soften the blow for Liz Truss; something of which I was totally unaware: anyone who has held the office of prime minister – regardless for how long – is entitled to claim an annual allowance of up to £115,000, supposedly for expenses incurred while fulfilling public duties associated with being a former prime minister. Of course. Who’d be surprised to learn, then, that, for the year 2020/21, Sir John Major, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and David Cameron all claimed in excess of £110,000 – needs must – while Theresa May claimed a mere £58,000. So interesting. In light of this fact, I am reminded of Jacqui (no ‘e’) Smith, the former Home Secretary, who proved herself adept at claiming expenses, falsely, between 2004 and 2009 to the grand sum of £116,000! Despite being found in breach of the guidelines, no repayment was demanded. Irks me to this day when I see her so confidently popping up on television, whether as a contestant on Strictly or an opinion on Good Morning, Britain, her image re-vamped with her blonde locks, her seedy past seemingly erased from memory. Not mine. I abhor her brass neck. In fact, this whole expenses malarkey is questionable. There, only, to be exploited.
As I write, I have a fan on next to me. It is still very warm, here, in the region of 30 degrees. Granted, there is an annoying breeze which insists on playing havoc with one’s hair but the skies are blue and the sun is shining, belying the end of October and the rapid demise of another year. Everywhere is busy and children abound, brought to the Eternal City for a little culture on their Half-Term holiday. Oblivious to the historic footsteps in which they are walking and the ancient ruins at every turn, they are just happy skipping in the warmth of the sun, pausing to enjoy the music or artistry of the buskers on the Via dei Fori Imperiali, while buoyed by the promise of a pizza in a nearby piazza. Oh, the simple life. Talking of the street entertainers, how Becca and I laughed, yesterday, as walking down that same majestic road lined with my favourite ‘umbrella’ trees, we passed one of those figures sprayed from head to foot silver, unnervingly still as he mimicked a statue. We, both, immediately recalled Pop/Bapa and the occasion in Perth, many years ago, when he and I were walking past a similar ‘statue’. Creepily still, one couldn’t help but stare, only to get the fright of our lives when it spoke: “Hello, Dr Sherret!“. Pop’s words to me, as we, both, laughed and he acknowledged the speaking statue: “Just another of my cures, Trish!”. If only he had written that book of anecdotes, we might all have been millionaires!
I wandered down to the Piazza Venezia earlier, in the afternoon sunshine, to buy tickets for the Van Gogh exhibition at the Palazzo Bonaparte. It comprises fifty of his works, all sourced from the Kröller Müller Museum in Otterlo, The Netherlands. Captivated by his art and words in the magnificence of Van Gogh Alive when it came to Edinburgh in the summer, I cannot wait to see his paintings in person. God help any weirdos – and I mean weirdos – who may appear, taking it upon themselves to deface one of the priceless works of art, even momentarily, in the name of their cause. Yes, supposedly, in the name of Just Stop Oil but, in truth, read disgruntled misfits channelling their inner grievance. What balanced, sane individual could bear to throw cans of Heinz tomato soup over Van Gogh’s most treasured work, regardless that the actual canvas was protected by glass? To see the result would be unthinkable. Arrested for criminal damage and aggravated trespass, in this ‘woke’ world, what are the odds that their punishment amounts to nothing more than words of warning?
Only nine days on, this Sunday past, two activists in Potsdam, Germany, doused Monet’s Haystacks – on display at the Museum Barberini – with mashed potato. Attention-seeking lost souls, they are to be pitied. For throwing food at treasured pieces of art, gluing their hands to the wall before reciting their set piece – once more with feeling – only gleans anger and disbelief. Far from garnering support, their aggressive approach merely eclipses their message. Is their grasp of the English language so inadequate that they cannot convince an audience with intelligent rhetoric? Just look at them. It would seem that criminal damage is their only tool.
Today, not only must one reconcile the news that Rishi Sunak is to be our next Prime Minister – smarm personified – but two more of those Just Stop Oil idiots made their parents proud by smashing cake in the face of our new King’s waxwork in Madame Tussauds, London. Their moment of fame proving ever more boring. My views on these lost souls in search of a cause to assuage their own believed inadequacies? Go to Ukraine and do something truly worthwhile rather than taking the easy option, misguided in the hope that such pathetic daring afford any sense of much-needed belonging. Do these troubled youths have any parents? Certainly not ones who care. Perhaps, there’s the rub.
Finally, in a bid to bin my notes, let me end with another piece of lunacy: as of 19th October, George Floyd’s family are suing Kanye West for more than £200 million in response to remarks he made about the circumstances of Floyd’s death. Mr West claimed he had died of a drug overdose, contradicting the coroner’s evidence. £200 million? Of course. George Floyd. Whiter than white …
‘A wise person should have money in their head but not in their heart.’
This is Trish, signing off.