There ain’t no party like a Lib Dem manifesto launch

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Monday

I’d waited 50 years for this. After the final whistle blew on Tottenham’s final game at White Hart Lane, the stewards opened the gates to allow fans the opportunity to walk on the pitch. It must have been one of the most good-natured and orderly pitch invasions in the history of British football. I first made my way down to the penalty spot at the north end of the ground, then headed towards the players’ tunnel before going to the centre circle where I scooped out a small bit of turf to keep as a souvenir. Along with the laminated “Condiments” sign I liberated from the refreshment area. As the crowd dispersed back to their seats to acknowledge some Spurs legends from the club’s 118-year stay at White Hart Lane and to have a final Barry Manilow-inspired sing-song, a rainbow appeared over the top of the east stand. It was a somewhat cheesy, yet somehow perfect, farewell to the ground. I’ll miss the place.

Tuesday

Scientists from the University of Tasmania have discovered nearly 38m pieces of plastic, weighing 17.6 tonnes, on Henderson, one of the largest of the remote Pitcairn Islands in the Pacific. About 18,000 items are washed up daily, making Henderson the place most densely polluted with anthropogenic debris on earth. Other than my son’s bedroom. No one seems to quite know why Henderson attracts all the rubbish that turns up from as far afield as Canada, Germany and New Zealand, but indigenous species are trying to make the best of it, with some giant crabs turning plastic cartons into temporary homes. It’s come to something when humans can turn an uninhabited island, that is only ever visited by scientists, into the world’s biggest rubbish dump. Were Charles Darwin alive today, he might be looking to Henderson for genetic mutations rather than the Galápagos Islands.

Wednesday

Most party manifesto launches are fairly dull affairs, with members of the cabinet and shadow cabinet trying to look interested as they sit behind their party leader, as he or she tries to sell their fantasy wish list to a bunch of sceptical hacks and a few dozen enthusiastic party activists who have been specially bussed. They also invariably take place in the morning so the policy announcements can make the lunchtime and early evening news bulletins. But this time the Lib Dems took a more novel approach. The party released its manifesto online at midday so that any of the broadcasters could talk about if they wanted to, and saved the main shindig for a bash in an east London club in the evening. As yellow strobe lights flashed around the room, the event opened with the announcement of a prize draw – “first prize: a chance to run round Hyde Park with Tim Farron” – before Farron came on to loud cheers from 500 Lib Dem clubbers, Vince Cable included, to talk about why the country would be better off voting for an opposition rather than the government. As far as I remember, the manifesto was only mentioned once.

Thursday

One of the more extraordinary details of the court case in which Michael Dawes tried to sue his dad – who had won £101m on the Euromillions lottery a few years previously – for an extra £5m after burning through the £2m he had already been given, was that Dawes and his partner had been spending £1,000 per week on groceries. Even when both our children lived at home, our weekly grocery bill only rarely strayed above £180 and we thought that was ridiculously extravagant. So how two people managed to eat their way through an extra £800 worth of food rather escapes me. It just doesn’t seem humanly possible. The pair of them must somehow have managed to squeeze down a couple of cows each, along with several tons of chips and 250 litres of Diet Coke. Not forgetting the tomato garnish. Come to think of it, they could probably have eaten all that at McDonalds for considerably less than £1,000.

Friday

The magazine L’Obs has revealed France had a detailed plan “to protect the Republic” if Marine Le Pen was elected president earlier this month. “It was like a multi-stage rocket,” an unnamed senior official said. “The philosophy, and the absolute imperative, was to keep the peace, while also respecting our constitutional rules.” This sounds to me like prudent foresight. If only Britain had drawn up a contingency plan for voting to leave the EU, we might not have one of the most depressing general election campaigns in living memory. The simple fact is that no one has a clue on what terms Britain will leave, how much it will have to pay in a divorce settlement, and what the impact will be on the UK economy. So for all the promises – some costed, most not – in the Tory party manifesto published this week, there were no figures whatsoever relating to the cost of Brexit. Either the Tories don’t think it will cost a penny or they imagine the country would be terrified by the reality.

Digested week, digested

“Promises, promises.”