10-17 March 2011
The Spectator and Sandals Royal Plantation, Jamaica have joined forces to offer readers a one week writing course overseen by three Spectator writers. The course is led by Mary Killen, the author of the Dear Mary column, novelist Philip Hensher, and Low Life columnist Jeremy Clarke. This unique course is designed for readers who have writing projects of their own but due to either a lack of time or discipline have failed to achieve as much as they would have wished. Participants will dedicate three hours to their manuscripts each morning while in their suites, and can then while away the afternoon at one of the two pristine white beaches with butler service, in the luxurious freshwater pool or at the Red Lane Spa. Afternoon tea will be taken on the terrace after which writers who wish to discuss the progress of their work will have the opportunity for time with Mary, Philip and Jeremy. Our writers will be on hand to offer guidance and encouragement during a daily session to discuss the day’s work in a group setting or on a one-to-one basis. The group will then congregate for dinner before an early night, to be ready for the next morning. Spectator readers will stay at the splendid Sandals Royal Plantation in Ocho Rios on a Luxury Included basis. Breakfast, lunch, tea and dinner as well as premium brand spirits and Beringer pouring wines are included in the price. Also included are activities such as golf, water sports and scuba diving. The resort, a member of the Leading Small Hotels of the World, is located on a magnificent coral bluff and all rooms are ocean-view suites with butler service. Readers can also enjoy local cultural excursions with Island Routes Adventure Tours, such as visit to Ian Fleming’s home, Goldeneye, and Noël Coward’s hilltop retreat, Firefly. ‘Oscar Wilde checked into the Cadogan Hotel; Evelyn Waugh went to Chagford. Many of the best writers have needed to lock themselves away to get their work done,’ says Mary. ‘Now readers have the chance to do the same.’
There are 17 double rooms available, priced at £2,499 per person. Flights and all transfers included. To book call 020 7581 9895 (callers should state that they’re ringing about The Spectator Writers’ Retreat) or email: email@example.com. For more information about Sandals Royal Plantation, please visit www.sandals.co.uk Home Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, said that the rise in VAT from 17.5 per cent to 20 per cent would cost the average family £7.50 a week. George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, said: ‘If you look at the population and how much they spend, then VAT is progressive.’ The average price of a pint of lager rose to more than £3. A railway season ticket to Sidcup rose by 12.5 per cent, among many others higher than the average of 5.8 per cent. In some places domestic rubbish went uncollected for a month because of bad weather and holidays. A fox weighing 28lb was trapped at Maidstone in Kent, suspected of having killed a cat.
Prisoners at Ford open prison, West Sussex, rioted and set buildings on fire, causing perhaps £3 million of damage, when the two prison officers on duty on new Year’s Eve tried to breathalyse some of the 500 held there. Two men died when their hot-air balloon plummeted on to a bowling green in Midsomer Norton, Somerset, narrowly missing houses. The average cost of houses in 20 streets in England was found to be more than £1 million, with those in the road called Parkside in Wimbledon averaging more than £5 million. Supplies of water to 40,000 people in Northern Ireland were cut off at night as efforts were made to restore connections broken by freezing weather; the chief executive of the state-owned Northern Ireland Water was expected to leave his post.
The Queen became a great-grandmother with the birth of a girl to Autumn and Peter Phillips. Lady Antonia Fraser became a Dame in the New Year’s honours, as did the actress Harriet Walter. Peter Bottomley was knighted, as was Lord Weidenfeld, but William Shawcross was only appointed CBE. Gerry Rafferty, the singer, died, aged 63. Pete Postlethwaite, the actor, died, aged 64. Lord Strabolgi, the Labour hereditary peer died, aged 96. The Government predicted that 10 million people in Britain alive today will live to more than 100. Nigel Pargetter was controversially killed in a fall from the roof at Lower Loxley after 27 years in The Archers.
Abroad In Pakistan the Muttahida Quami Movement left the ruling coalition, removing the overall majority of the administration led by the Prime Minister, Yousuf Raza Gilani. Salman Taseer, the governor of Pakistan’s Punjab province, an opponent of the death penalty for blasphemy, was shot dead in Islamabad by his bodyguard. Three US drones killed at least 15 people in the North Waziristan tribal area of Pakistan. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ air force wing, said that two ‘Western spy drones’ had been shot down in the Gulf, but America denied that any of theirs had been shot down. Li Keqiang, who is expected to become the premier of China in two years’ time, visited Europe and promised to buy Spanish bonds. An oil pipeline opened between Russia and China, through which 300,000 barrels a the spectator | 8 January 2011 | www.spectator.co.uk day are expected to flow. President Evo Morales of Bolivia undid 70 per cent increases in petrol prices after a week of transport strikes. In Macau, revenues from casino gambling rose by 57 per cent in the past year to £15.2 billion.
Abomb at a Coptic church in Alexandria during Mass on New Year’s Eve killed 21. Copts in France and Germany spoke of terrorist threats to their communities. Two employees of the British consulate in Jerusalem were arrested by Israeli police investigating a plot to fire a missile at a football stadium. The leaders of Benin, Cape Verde, Sierra Leone and Kenya met President Laurent Gbagbo of Ivory Coast and offered him amnesty if he recognised Alassane Ouattara as the winner of November’s elections, but he would not budge. Facebook, which overtook Google as the most visited website in America in 2010, raised $500 million of investment. A charger that will fit the 14 bestselling mobile phones is to be manufactured before the year is out.
In Queensland 200,000 people were affected by snake-infested floods, which covered an area the size of France and Germany. Germany called up its last 12,000 conscripts before the system ends in July. Greece said it would build an eight-mile fence along its border with Turkey at Orestiada to prevent illegal immigration. About 80 migrants, mostly from Ethiopia, drowned when their boats capsized off Yemen. More than 3,000 red-winged blackbirds fell in one evening on the city of Beebe, Arkansas. CSH