Boyd Tonkin: btw

Share
Related Topics

'As predicted, Hank Bumblebee cleaned up with Pentecostalist rattlesnake-handlers in Appalachia. But will his appeal to reptile-friendly faith communities trump Chip McHawk's iron grip on the votes of used Chevy dealers in desert states? In the other camp, can Billary Frinton's coalition of poodle-walking psychotherapists on the Upper West Side and Korean grocers in the Rustbelt match the excitement inspired by Toastrack Oblimey among goateed computer-game designers in Silicon Valley who used to play in Grunge bands..." I slogged through pages and hours of this stuff in the wake of Super Tuesday. Never has the 51st-Statism of mainstream British culture felt more abject than it did this week. Meanwhile, back in boring Brussels (yawn...), discussions take place all the time that will shape every aspect of our daily life. Which media outlet will dare to devote even 5 per cent of the space and time reserved for transatlantic shenanigans to spotlight the EU system that really makes a difference to us all?

* Primary elections work like sporting tournaments, which explains their headline-grabbing power. Yet a real – and enthralling – continent-wide contest has been building to its climax through this week. On Sunday, Egypt will play Cameroon in the final of the African Cup of Nations. I was in Cairo as Egypt's footballers began the defence of their title in Ghana. At a publishing dinner, a giant screen planted in the centre of the room upstaged all literary chit-chat as the local boys thrashed Sudan 3-0 in a regional derby. On any normal day, Cairo's traffic already boasts a honk level that sounds like the delirious aftermath of a famous victory. Heaven knows what the decibel count might reach if Egypt triumphs this weekend.

* In comparison with Europe (even Greece), Egypt remains a smoker's paradise. Cairenes claim that tobacco at least promises some choice over the substances that seep into your lungs – the traffic fumes offer none. During that dinner, on a converted river steamer anchored in the sacred stream, plump cigars were not only passed around, but left to burn as smokers dashed off to check the football. It gave a whole new meaning to Death on the Nile.

* France may have yielded meekly to a public-smoking ban, but elsewhere the "French exception" thrives. This week I met Erik Orsenna, one of those multi-tasking mandarins that Paris still designs to a world-beating spec. Goncourt Prize-winning novelist, sailor, economist, jurist, presidential adviser (to Mitterrand), member of the Conseil d'Etat (like being a law lord for governmental matters), he launched his book, Portrait of the Gulf Stream: a blend of travel, science and ecological warning. Worse, he manages to be funny, mischievous and unstuffy too. He's also one of the 40 "immortals" of the Académie française, where he occupies the seat formerly held by another doyen of the life aquatic: Commander Jacques-Yves Cousteau. It all makes my Lord Bragg look slightly under-employed.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Hydraulic Power Pack Design Engineer

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: I recruit for contract mechanical design...

SQL DBA/ C# Developer - T-SQL, C#.Net

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Working with an exciting ...

SCO Supervisor Electrical

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client based in the Midlands is looki...

Ecommerce Executive

£20000 - £24000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Ecommerce Executive Working with an...

Day In a Page

Read Next
'Our media are suffering a new experience: not fear of being called anti-Semitic'  

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk
David Cameron (pictured) can't steal back my party's vote that easily, says Nigel Farage  

Cameron’s benefits pledge is designed to lure back Ukip voters. He’ll have to try harder

Nigel Farage
Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices