Many scorn teenage environmental campaigner Greta Thunberg, but she has won me over completely. This week, the 16-year-old set off from the UK on a 3,000-mile voyage to New York, where she will address the United Nations at a Climate Action Summit.
In some respects, it is gesture activism of the worst sort, making a go-slow journey to prove some specious point or other.
And yet there is something undeniably noble about Greta’s voyage, aboard a no-frills yacht with a three-man crew, including her father.
teenage environmental campaigner Greta Thunberg, 16, has embarked on a 3,000 mile voyage from the UK, to speak at the Climate Action Summit
The poor thing got seasick just sailing around Plymouth Harbour. How she will fare in the hurricane season in the Atlantic, on a racing yacht stripped of any comforts, is anyone’s guess.
So bloody good for her. And, if the very thought of this plucky girl, complete with salt-sprayed pigtail, sailing across an ocean in the hope of a better world doesn’t inspire you to become a more vigilant recycler and all-round greener person, then shame on you.
Greta could certainly teach a thing or two to royals such as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and the Prince of Wales.
Public patience is wearing thinner than the ozone layer with this bunch of greater-crested, energy-guzzling hypocrites, who preach one thing in public while doing the opposite in their private lives.
Prince Harry has said he and wife Meghan are having only two children to save the planet — how very gracious of them.
Yet he sees no irony in reportedly having taken a private jet to speak at a Google climate conference and staying on a 390 ft superyacht that, experts say, releases into the atmosphere 3.3 tons of carbon dioxide every hour it’s at sea.
All to produce some hot air of his own — during his speech, he lectured that taking fewer selfies would help save the planet.
Meanwhile, Meghan has shared online ludicrous arty pictures of her hands cradling the trunk of an endangered elephant (I hope it’s his trunk) to promote World Elephant Day, while thinking it is also perfectly fine to take a private jet to and from New York to attend her baby shower.
And, more recently, the couple apparently took another private jet for a holiday in Ibiza, which just makes a mockery of their claims to be concerned environmentalists.
If it really is a global crisis, then surely they should act like it’s a global crisis.
Instead of behaving as though it’s an issue for which others must make sacrifices while they carry on as five-star normal.
No wonder the Sussexes take such great pains to keep everything about their lifestyle a secret. Exposure of the full extent of their climate change imposture might provoke a revolution.
Staunch environmentalist Prince Charles has tried to reduce his own carbon footprint. Crikey yes, one does one’s bit, doesn’t one?
However, the Prince finds flying first class ‘incredibly uncomfortable’, according to one biographer. It must be hideous.
‘Camilla! Camilla! That lady in the uniform just gave me a plate of tiny gold bar thingies. What should I do?’
‘Calm down, Charles. It’s only butter.’
Perhaps that’s why the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall regularly use private jets on official tours, which, in recent years, have included the Caribbean and Europe.
Meanwhile, the Royal Family made 204 journeys by helicopter from April 2018 to April 2019.
In principle, I have no objection to any of this. Security concerns and packed schedules mean that private travel is often the only option for senior royals on official business.
But it becomes more problematic when royal eco-warriors insist on the same when going about their private business.
Then it becomes painfully clear that their comfort, their privacy and their ease of passage are not going to be compromised for any green cause, no matter what they might self-righteously proclaim in their speeches or on Instagram.
Meanwhile, Greta Thunberg is on board a zero-carbon yacht to America on a journey that will take two weeks — and, with no kitchen or toilet, this is no pleasure cruise.
Today, she is heading towards the Azores, where the forecast is for three-metre waves and winds of up to 30 knots.
Yet Greta has vowed never to fly again because of the damage it causes to the planet — and she is sticking to her promise.
How very different this stance is from the lives of our dear royals, whose idea of hardship is a glass of non-vintage champagne in a first-class cabin and the dreaded prospect of some peasant (shudder) taking a photograph of them on a normal flight.
They all preach exactly the same message as Greta, but refuse to apply it to their own lives — and seem to have no perception of how badly this plays with the public.
Especially those who save up all year for their one special holiday abroad, only to find themselves being lectured by a bunch of selfish, pampered gas-guzzlers deluded about their own impact on the planet and on us.
If the royals are going to be green, they could do worse than follow the example of Greta, who inspires millions of schoolchildren and has the courage and fortitude to live out her convictions. Not just to strike a pose.
Excuse that’s a bridge too far, even for Boris
The Ponte della Costituzione was the first bridge to be built in Venice for more than 125 years.
Designed by world-famous Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, it opened in 2008 and has been nothing short of a disaster ever since. Locals complained that its modern design jarred with the classical surroundings, while there was originally no disabled access — and it came in more than £11 million overbudget.
Ongoing flaws mean it costs millions more a year to maintain, while many have slipped and injured themselves on the bridge’s glass steps in wet weather.
Venice is a damp and misty city for much of the year — something Mr Calatrava seemingly did not take into account. The handmade steps get damaged by tourists’ wheelie bags and constantly have to be replaced. This week, the architect was fined £72,000 by a court for his failings — a small punishment in comparison to the millions the bridge has cost the Italian taxpayer. Responding to criticism, Mr Calatrava declared — and I like to think he swept his hair back in irritation as he did so — that he had been responsible for the design of the project, not its execution.
‘My work is limited to the aesthetic,’ he thundered.
Quite the most marvellous excuse for a fiasco, don’t you think?
Boris Johnson might have said something similar about London’s doomed Garden Bridge. But even he didn’t dare.
Aha! It’s one rule for Alan…
Steve Coogan escaped a lengthy driving ban this week after claiming it would force him to cancel his new Alan Partridge show on BBC One.
If he was banned for six months, as the 12 points on his licence would have demanded, it would mean the show could not go on. Why? It was part of the Partridge legend that his character (pictured right) drove everywhere.
Aha, you might think. What a load of old luvvie cobblers. Yet magistrates in Crawley agreed and reduced his ban from six months to two.
Further proof that there seems to be one law for celebrities and another for everyone else.
Watch the car: Steve Coogan has narrowly avoided a driving ban after claiming it would interfere with his new Alan Partridge show
Would a builder or tradesman or district nurse be afforded such largesse, even if their livelihoods were affected in similar ways? The point of a driving ban is not just to keep the roads safer, but also to create a meaningful deterrent for habitual speeders.
Coogan knows very well that many movie and TV driving scenes are filmed with the cars on low-loaders — the series could have gone ahead without the threat of anyone losing their job.
Seems like another ghastly case of: ‘Do you know who I am?’ More fool those starstruck officials on the bench who agreed to his pleas. If the law isn’t equal for all, then it becomes meaningless.
Don’t video it — call the firefighters
What the blazes? The despairing London Fire Brigade has had to beg the public to use their phones to dial 999, rather than use them to film fires.
It has now become routine for crews to arrive at conflagrations to find a bunch of dopes videoing the events on their smartphones.
They don’t try to help. They don’t even check if there is anything they can do. They just stand there, with their stupid thumbs on the button, mouths open, brains in neutral — completely disassociated from trauma or danger, real or imagined.
This has led to fears that people are growing complacent about alerting the emergency services to dangerous situations. For them, everything is a movie, waiting to be captured and shared. Nothing is real and nobody cares.
When a recent BA flight to Valencia filled with smoke, some passengers even managed to film events before leaving via the emergency exit.
Call me old-fashioned, but if I were on board a smoking jet, taking a selfie or a video would be the last thing on my mind.
Meanwhile, if you see a fire, don’t ever assume that someone else has already called. Multiple calls help the control room build a picture of what is happening.
The London Fire Brigade has even launched a campaign to deter onlookers from doing nothing, complete with the hashtag #Call999BeforeYouFilm.
Here’s another hashtag #morons.
A unique sight: Kate in a wearable outfit
Summer seems to have rushed by this year — like something beautiful and fleeting, but just beyond grasp.
Outside my London home, the plane trees have already lost their lustre and the leaves are beginning to crisp and fall. It seems too soon!
No wonder last-minute holidays are being snapped up as fed-up families flee the gales and rain for a bit of last-gasp sun.
Not much consolation for those of us left behind, who must make do with the vicarious thrill of paddling through the online shallows of celebrities abroad. Is it any solace to know that the Beckhams are in Puglia, drinking watermelon cocktails, Jeremy Clarkson has rented a castle in France for the entire summer and Robbie Williams was in Formentera, while Kate Garraway had an ‘amazing’ time in Abersoch in Wales. Not really.
But it was cheering to see Kate Moss wafting around St Tropez in a pink cotton kaftan. Not just because it was lovely — it’s the first thing she’s worn for two decades that mere mortals could wear, too.
Kate Moss has wowed bystanders and budgets alike, sporting this simple pink kaftan around St Tropez