A week free of interruptions

Cannizaro House

Cannizaro House

Last week I left home and went to Cannizaro House in Wimbledon to a place recommended by my taxi driver. It’s an utterly wonderful 18th Century house with grounds open to the public and I could see children of two or three with their mothers tottering around on their way to the park. This was to give me a week free of interruptions in order to finish the international dollar edition of Money Stuff. I had a good rest into the bargain.

Evelyn Waugh's Scoop

Evelyn Waugh’s Scoop

I took quite a lot of books with me. Evelyn Waugh’s Scoop – something light that would make me laugh – and Michael Frayn’s Towards the End of the Morning. I also took Jane Austin’s Mansfield Park, which I didn’t get to read.

I also took a book by the mother of a friend I went to school with, Vera Brittain’s Testament of Youth.

She was an early feminist and pacifist. She had a job persuading her parents to let her work.

Vera Brittain

Vera Brittain

I also watched Kate Adie’s Women of World War One on BBC Two which was about women taking up men’s work during the war. We owe a lot to those women – when taking on a mortgage, for example – they paved the way for us.

I had a long email from a Jewish friend in Australia about the situation in Gaza. We had a long email correspondence and I thought afterwards that both sides have grievances but it’s about time it was defined as a modern, not a medieval matter. Killing doesn’t get you very far but destroys too many young men and families.

The troubles in the Middle East and the Balkans, as it was known, are all caused by the indiscriminate carving up of countries after world war one, by drawing lines on a map without taking any account of the language spoken or what Gods they prayed to.

I’d like to see an end to the international arms trade. If we sell arms, they are used against neighbours. It’s still a man’s world.

I came home to find all my in trays full.

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