Cou nter poi nts
Another cricketing adventurer is Oli Broom, who demonstrated his dedication to the game when he cycled around the world from Lord’s in London to the Gabba stadium in Brisbane in time for the start of the 2010 Ashes. In a 14-month trip he pedalled through 23 countries, playing cricket in all but three of them and raising money for the Lord’s Taverners, a cricket charity.
Broom’s latest project is to raise the £400,000 needed to build a cricket ground in Rwanda. Despite increasing interest in the sport, the country has just one shabby pitch. When Rwanda joined the Commonwealth in 2009, it was the first country without any former British colonial links to do so. When Tony Blair backed their admission, he quipped, “Well, they play cricket, don’t they?”
The Rwandans will doubtless take heart from the rise of the Afghanistan cricket team, a story told by Tim Albone in his film and book Out of the Ashes (Virgin, £11.99). In 1987, the Afghan Cricket Club was founded in a refugee camp in Pakistan. This year, the national team will take part in the Twenty20 World Cup, competing against the best in the world.
With corrupt Pakistani cricketers behind bars and the gaudy, money-soaked Indian Premier League on the rise, cricket needs good-news stories. Fortunately, there are still plenty to choose from.
By Brian O’Flan
London Metropolitan University made the news recently when comments from the Vice-Chancellor, Malcolm Gillies, on how to cater for Muslim students, went public.
Gillies said that, for many of the 20 per cent of the university’s students who are Muslim, drinking alcohol was “an immoral experience”; he proposed alcohol-free zones on campus. He also nonchalantly noted that many female Muslim students “can only really go to university within four miles of home and have to be delivered and picked up by a close male relative”.
At a time when competition between universities is increasing, Gillies is setting out London Metropolitan’s stall: he is going to pander to or cater for the most backward elements of the Muslim community.
This demonstrates a remarkable lack of self-belief. Universities should compete on the quality of their courses, not on the likelihood of seeing someone sipping a pint of lager. Indeed, just think about the sort of students who might choose an inferior course simply because they would be surrounded by people whose morals they approved of. You’d end up attracting a uniform, censorious, unquestioning bunch of drones, not the stuff of boundless free inquiry upon which university education is supposed to be based.
And how far is Gillies proposing to push this policy? Doubtless the same students offended by the sight of a pint of bitter will be at least as upset at the presence of the university’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) society. Will Gillies tell them to pack their bags in order to corner the market in post-secondary bigots? First they came for the drinkers...
Gillies is making the Galloway Calculation, the same one that Ken Livingstone made in London’s mayoral election. He is calculating that the rewards for appealing to conservative Muslims outweigh the losses of all those LGBT students who will go elsewhere. And, as Galloway found in Bradford, there is mileage in the strategy. In a world where universities are in competition, these short-term gains could be appealing.
But they will be a mirage. Ultimately a university will stand or fall on the quality of its education. The quality of the students is a large part of that. By attracting those who refuse to integrate and shunning those they disapprove of, Malcolm Gillies risks turning his university into a madrassa for the enthusiastically ignorant in the heart of London.
A New Yorker writes
BY JAY NORDLINGER
Anthony Daniels has said he likes living in foreign countries. He has lived in several of them. For one thing, a foreign country’s problems are not your own problems—your own country’s. You can view them with a certain detachment. It may be too bad that Italy has gone childless, let’s say. But what really churns your gut is the barbarisation of Birmingham.
Do you know the definition of minor surgery? Surgery someone else is having.
I don’t live in Britain, but I have become addicted to the British press. I turn to it for information and amusement, yes. But also for something like comfort. As an American political journalist, I am enmeshed in my own country’s problems, and long have been. Sometimes these problems are bitter in one’s mouth. My cousins, the British, provide relief.
For someone who lives in New York, I probably know far too much about the “pasty tax”. I also have a pretty firm grasp on the socio-political meaning of “kitchen suppers”, the kind evidently shared by Dave and his donors.
Yes, Dave: I’m on first-name terms with many British politicians, not only the Prime Minister, but also the London mayoral candidates, Ken and Boris. By now, I’m apt to think of Dave’s two immediate predecessors as Gordon and Tony. It is not natural for me to refer to any American politician by his first name, except maybe for Newt and Mitt. (Such distinctive, clipped names.)
Which Miliband is which, I have not quite memorised. Yet I sort of thrill to the Shakespearean nature of brother political rivals.
Everyone says that the British press is a lot more entertaining than the American, and everyone is right. A recent Telegraph headline included the phrase “a knee in the nuts”. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that in these United States. (The phrase, I mean, not the act.)
I realise that George Galloway is a menace or worse. But it’s easy to laugh at him from 3,500 miles away. In the same way, some Brits may find it easy to laugh at our Al Sharpton, who makes sure to keep our terrible racial pot boiling.
When I need a break away, I think, “What has Lord Tebbit said lately?” Quite possibly, I know more about Toby Young’s kids than I do about my own nieces and nephews. Recently, Daniel Hannan said that Tony Abbott, leader of the Australian opposition, is his “favourite English-speaking politician”. Mine is Michael Gove, the Leader of the West.
I swear I feel better with every gallop of Charles Moore’s horse. I also know about Rebekah—another first name!—and her retired Met horse, ridden by Dave. The least important thing about Britain is that it makes my life happier. And yet, it does.