Weirdos, misfits and why I had to check my dog’s horoscope | UK news


Dominic Cummings’s programme to recruit more “weirdos” and “misfits” into No 10 got off to a cracking start with the appointment of “Mystic” Andrew Sabisky, the self-styled superforecaster. Just weeks after Sabisky started work, several newspapers did a cursory trawl of his social media posts and discovered that he had a tendresse for racial eugenics and enforced contraception for working-class teenage girls.

On this evidence, it seems unlikely that Sabisky’s own parents share their son’s enthusiasm for eugenics. Astonishingly, the prime minister’s press spokesman was unable to confirm whether Boris Johnson, who has chosen the week when much of the country is underwater to make himself invisible, disagreed with eugenics and enforced contraception. It’s possible of course that Boris may, with hindsight, have strong views on the latter. More remarkably, No 10 didn’t even go into damage limitation mode and expedite Sabisky’s dismissal; rather, it waited for the twentysomething to make the decision that Cummings had found too difficult and announce his own resignation.

Inevitably, attention then turned to what vetting procedures Downing Street had made prior to Sabisky’s appointment. The answer turned out to be none. Presumably, because if previously having written racist and offensive columns were to be a job disqualifier, then Boris would also also have to stand down. Equally oddly, some former special advisers then sought to place the blame for Sabisky getting the job entirely on Sabisky himself. It was up to him to have disclosed all his wacko writings and it was unreasonable to expect No 10 to conduct any due diligence. Just two Tory MPs – Caroline Nokes and William Wragg – were brave enough to go public with their disquiet over the recruitment process. The rest saw no problem: the country had had ample warning about what type of government Boris was likely to run so it was a bit late in the day to start moaning now. Classic Dom. He’s got us all just where he wants us.


If there were a points-based tally for becoming home secretary, I’m fairly certain that Priti “Tough on counter-terrorism, tough on the causes of counter-terrorism” Patel would never have got the job. And not just because under the government’s own system, her parents would never have been allowed to settle and work in the UK.

Patel might have got the full 10 points for the necessary levels of viciousness, but – even in a Tory party not overburdened with talent – Patel stands out as a standard bearer for the stupid and underhand. Leaving aside that she has already been sacked from the cabinet once before for conducting her own undercover foreign policy without informing the prime minister – something you would have thought debarred her from almost any job in any profession, let alone home secretary – Patel doesn’t appear to have understood some fairly basic facts about the labour market.

First she has seized on the fact that 20% of people between 18 and 65 aren’t in full-time work as a sign of huge slack in the economy – this at a time when her own government is boasting of record levels of employment – without realising that almost all these people are accounted for by students, the retired, those unable to work through disability, and full-time, unpaid carers. Then she seems unable to grasp the difference between unskilled and low-paid jobs. The starting salaries for many qualified jobs in the NHS, and other professions where there are severe staff shortages, are all below the threshold set by the government so immigrants from the EU and the rest of the world will automatically be excluded. It also doesn’t appear to have occurred to Patel that most Brits – including her and the rest of the cabinet – aren’t not doing these jobs because immigrants have stolen them from them, but because they don’t want to do them. My 96-year-old mother now lives in a care home staffed by many people Patel now wants to keep out of the country. Perhaps the home secretary would like to explain to her and thousands of others like her just who is going to be looking after them in the future. If she had the imagination, Patel might also wonder who is going to be looking after her when the time comes. Still, it’s what the people apparently voted for. Populism rules.


All too predictably, Spurs slid to an ignoble 1-0 home defeat to Leipzig in the first round of the Champions League knockout stages. Just about the only positive from the night was that we didn’t lose by more, though, God knows, we did try. Spurs only tactic for the first 70 minutes was to boot the ball upfield to give possession back to our opponents. It was an unusual way to try and win a football match. Things did improve slightly in the last 20 minutes, during which the players did attempt a couple of passes to their own teammates before losing possession, but no one in the ground seriously believed we were ever likely to score. Either then or even for the rest of the season as our two strikers, Harry Kane and Son Heung-min, are both out of action.

Who at a top Premier League club could possibly have anticipated key players might get injured and that it might be a good idea to have some replacements available? No one at Spurs, that’s for certain. What made the lack of an attacking threat all the more poignant were the pre-match and half-time celebrations for the 80th birthday of Jimmy Greaves, one of the greatest ever goal scorers for Spurs and England. If you’ve never seen how good he was, there’s a brilliant documentary now showing on BT Sport. It was Greaves who was to blame for my love affair of 50-plus years with Spurs. I was nine when the 1966 World Cup took place and it was Jimmy whom I idolised. I’ve never fully forgiven Geoff Hurst for scoring what should have been Greaves’s hat-trick in the final. My obsession with Greaves was so total I even named my pet rabbit after him, and I’ve supported Spurs ever since. So even though I know the best that can be hoped for against Chelsea is a 0-0 draw – as I said, we aren’t likely to score – I will be in the away end at Stamford Bridge on Saturday for more misery. There are some addictions I just can’t shrug off.


It was only a matter of time, I suppose. Astrologer Jessica Adams has now started doing horoscopes for pets. The taurus cat is apparently “a dribbler who loves its breakfast and will lick empty food bowls in the hope of finding the last scrap”. Which pretty much describes every cat I’ve ever come across, though it’s possible that every cat I know was born between 21 April and 21 May.

Meanwhile sociable libra dogs “like to perform duets with other dogs”. Really? I must have missed that karaoke night. Still, any port in a storm and all that, for me and Herbert Hound have had a falling out. Or rather I have had a falling out with him; he’s totally unaware there’s a problem. When my wife was away on holiday recently, Herbert couldn’t get enough of me. He snuggled up to me in bed and was utterly devoted as we watched TV together. But ever since my wife came home, he has pretty much given me the cold shoulder, only bothering to be nice to me if Jill is out or doing something else. I’ve tried reminding him that without me, he would have been utterly miserable but he’s completely unmoved. So in desperation I’ve checked his horoscope. Born on 17September, Herbert is a virgo which means “he loves routines and will stand on you five minutes before the alarm”. There is a caveat, though. Mercury is now in retrograde – me neither – so Adams reckons his timings will be an hour out. So I had better get used to being ignored an hour earlier.


Donald Trump is never usually shy in coming forward, so it’s something of a surprise to find he hasn’t yet boasted of his status as America’s 10th best-paid athlete and the 17th in the world. Who knew the president was such an elite physical specimen? Or that cheating at golf could prove to be so lucrative? Using figures supplied by the Government Accountability Office, the US website the Root has calculated that during a one-month period in 2017, Americans paid $13m for four trips to Trump properties for golf outings, including $60,000 for rooms and space at the Palm Beach resort. This includes thousands of dollars for lodging and feeding Secret Service agents, paid directly to the resort owned by Trump.

In total, since 2016, the local and federal costs for Trump’s sporting triumphs total $152m. Or roughly $50.6m a year for The Donald to play golf. That’s more than any other sports organisation has ever paid someone to play golf. Perhaps, we should be grateful that our own prime minister appears to have abandoned any pretensions to fitness and has reconciled himself to a life of slobdom. There again Johnson did take part in the most expensive game of tennis ever played. To help make up his mind which side of the EU referendum campaign would best further his career, Boris took to the court for a few sets against his sister Rachel, according to her. The outcome of that game has already cost the UK billions and will almost certainly continue to do so for a while yet. Just think. If only someone had paid Boris £2bn just to do nothing other than have IT lessons with Jennifer Arcuri – we’re still waiting for the outcome of that investigation – we could all have been so much better off.

“Yes, it’s so sad that Meghan has gone to live in Canada.”

‘Yes, it’s so sad that Meghan has gone to live in Canada.’ Photograph: Kensington Palace/PA

Digested week, digested: ‘You’re not welcome here.’

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