Come on, donate to Oxfam.

by Harry on December 31, 2008

US taxpayers might remember that today is the last day to donate to Oxfam and still get a 2008 tax-deduction. It’s simple. Figure out what you can afford to give, guess what your tax rate will be, add that percentage to what you can afford, and then double it.

Donate here.

Arise, Sir Nutter

by Harry on December 31, 2008

Odd business, the honours system. In some fields, it seems that who gets offered an honour, and when, is not far from random: Cliff and Elton before Paul; Mick at all. Mike Brearley not a knight, still? Then there are the laggards: Cyril Washbrook getting a CBE in his 70s when almost everyone else had forgotten him except for the new Prime Minister of the time whose presumed intervention on Washbrook’s behalf is one of many reasons why I admire him more than anyone else I know does. And then there are the fields where you are bound to be offered something by a certain age unless you have done something very odd. Lead a party, get a peerage. Almost all significant cabinet ministers seem to be offered them eventually, so of those who don’t have them you pretty much know they have turned them down (Michael Foot has, apparently, turned everything down; Ted Heath must have turned down a peerage, though accepted other things). I presume that no-one has had a sufficiently surreal sense of humour to offer Tony Benn anything, but I also presume that’s the only reason he hasn’t been offered anything (or, maybe I’m wrong, and he has). I was told the other day that Nigella Lawson turned something down, which I find very surprising. But what could have been offered to her and why?

Anyway, no doubt the honours system is outdated, somewhat corrupt and faintly ludicrous. I just hope that its mostly harmless. Congratulations, Dad. Thank goodness they’re not hereditary.

(Explanation of title here. Key quote: ‘Professor Brighouse, a Labour Party supporter, used money he won in a libel action against John Patten, a former Conservative education secretary, for one of his most innovative reforms – setting up a University of the First Age at Aston University so youngsters from deprived backgrounds could get a taste of university life and seize the chance to go on to higher education. Mr Patten had described Professor Brighouse as a “nutter” who roamed the streets frightening little children.‘)