Sunday, Dec 08, 2019 | Last Update : 05:11 PM IST

Wimbledon, World Cup & Boris: It’s an exciting time in the UK

Kishwar Desai, is the chair of the Arts and Cultural Heritage Trust, which is setting up the Partition Museum at Town Hall, Amritsar.
Published : Jul 22, 2019, 4:40 am IST
Updated : Jul 22, 2019, 4:40 am IST

The best of all possible and most nail biting occasion of course was the World Cup cricket victory for England for the first time in 40-plus years.

British Prime Minister Theresa May (Photo: AP)
 British Prime Minister Theresa May (Photo: AP)

As the country awaits a new Prime Minister, the period of uncertainty has meant that it is open season for Londoners to engage in conspiracy theories. One of them revolves around the question of who actually revealed the diplomatic cables sent by the former ambassador to the US, Sir Kim Darroch, about Donald Trump. Now a remarkably young journalist, 19-year-old Steve Edginton, has claimed he had dug them out from a civil service source. Mr Edginton says, in a newspaper article, that he had been working on a story where he “decided to aim big and investigate how the civil service has been preparing for Brexit, including what senior government officials really think about our impending departure from the European Union.”

He came across the letter written by Sir Kim during the course of his investigation — though this was unrelated to Brexit. The publication of the cables in turn led to a row in which Mr Trump called Sir Kim “wacky” and the diplomat had to go. Now, Mr Edginton apparently fears arrest but says he will not reveal his source. He is unlikely to be arrested (freedom of the press is dear to all) but the prospect was raised by the assistant police commissioner, Neil Basu, who spoke about stern action against leaks of this nature. The excitement is natural as there is no one really in charge right now. The civil service seems to be the one safe harbour in these uncertain times, and to mix metaphors, is it turning into a leaky ship?

The other excitement is in politics. We are in the last week of Theresa May’s prime ministerial career in which she has further transformed into someone bold and funny and decisive. On Sunday, she was at the Wimbledon Men’s Final as well as the final overs of the Cricket World Cup and ended the evening dancing away. Her reign may seem short, but it lasted more than 1,000 days, and she was Prime Minister longer than at least three other Prime Ministers — Anthony Eden, Alec Douglas-Home and Gordon Brown.

We await the result of the contest within the Conservative Party, but it looks pretty certain to be Boris Johnson. But for his recent separation from his wife Marina, he could have been the son-in-law of Punjab. However, rumours are that Rishi Sunak, who has been a junior minister, is up for promotion and Priti Patel will be back as well.

Boris is great at making up fake news all by himself and has been doing it for many years. Just two days ago, he held up a kipper in a plastic bag and said it was the European Union regulations which had forced all fish to be wrapped in plastic bags with ice cushions. Thus was yet another anti-EU story but it turned out to be totally fake: it is a UK regulation, not EU. Typical Boris.

Boris Johnson’s arrival as a new Prime Minister without having won a general election is another trend. Since the end of World War II, he will be the eighth such Prime Minister. Five of them have been Conservative: Eden, Macmillan, Home, Major and May. Two — Callaghan and Brown — were Labour.

The best of all possible and most nail biting occasion of course was the World Cup cricket victory for England for the first time in 40-plus years. Once the double-tied match ended with England’s victory, Lords cricket ground exploded. The audience had as many people from the diaspora of the subcontinent as the natives. Champagne bottles exploded. Without anyone noticing, Moeen Ali and Rashid quietly disappeared so as not to be drenched in alcohol — perhaps because it is considered haraam. With the Barbados-born Jofra Archer as the English player who bowled the super over, the English team is multi-racial. But then, as someone said, English men at last did what women did long ago. Rachel Hayhoe Flint had captained the English women’s side to a World Cup victory 40 years ago.

Climate change being the new fashionable concern, celebrities are joining the act. Stella McCartney, the fashion designer and Beatle Paul McCartney’s daughter, claims that she does not insist her undergarments be cleaned after each day’s use. Others are telling us how washing in cold water is better and more energy saving than hot water. But of course, until people don’t return to the good old bucket bath, and give up showers and bath tubs — consumption of water will remain very high.

If you really want to have high tea, there is now a place near Victoria where you can spend a fortune on a pot of tea. Rubens Hotel serves a rare brand of Sri Lankan tea which has to be sipped slowly on its own. The tea leaves are carefully weighed and measured. Water at exactly the required temperature is poured over it by the tea sommelier. Three helpings are possible. The price? Just £500.

Tags: donald trump, european union, theresa may