Cameron licks his wounds

David Cameron has been out of the public eye since stepping down as prime minister. So what has he been up to?


He can console himself with a festive beer and a £120,000 an hour speaking fee
(Image credit: Copyright (c) 2009 Rex Features. No use without permission.)

How is David Cameron coping with life after Downing Street? Sightings of the former prime minister have been rare since his departure in June, as Andrew Pierce says in the Daily Mail. He spent the late summer "licking his wounds" at the family home in the hamlet of Dean, near Chipping Norton in Oxfordshire, and most of his social outings recently have been with friends or colleagues, such as a lunch (beef stew, apple pie and cream) thrown for him by Sir Tony Baldry, who stood down as MP for Banbury last year.

At the lunch fellow Oxfordshire MPs paid tribute to Cameron who assured them, and his own successor (barrister Robert Courts), that he would not be a backseat driver.

So might he take up hunting again now he is no longer prime minister, wonders Pierce. And "will he jettison cheap easyJet flights to holidays in Europe" and go somewhere more exotic instead? Whatever he does, I doubt he'll be short of cash. While he writes his memoirs, there'll be no need to rush into another job. The speaking circuit is highly lucrative, and Pierce thinks Cameron can charge as much as £120,000 an hour.

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Get these neo-fascists off our roads

Why, wonders Times columnist Giles Coren, do so many people who live in cities insist on driving "giant stupid great urban 4X4s"? Coren is incensed by the news that National Car Parks are planning to make their parking bays bigger to accommodate 4X4s. This is largely because of an "epidemic" of parking accidents caused by the fact that "the selfish bastards who own these ridiculous vehicles" are no good at driving them. The "moronic" owners of these Porsche Cayennes or Audi Q7s or BMW X5s are "shunting into each other in their rush to get to the caviar aisle of the local Waitrose" at the rate of around 2,000 times a day.

The annual cost of repairing the damage caused by "these rich, witless fools" careering around in parking lots has risen to an incredible £1.4bn, Coren goes on. That's a cost that is passed on in the form of higher insurance premiums to the sensible drivers of "nice little normal cars like you and me".

And the fact that these 4X4 drivers are being congratulated for their selfishness with "lovely big new parking bays is well, utterly of a piece with the horrific descent into neo-fascist selfishness and isolationism that has characterised the politics of 2016 so far". As for the safety argument well, it may make driving safer for the owners of urban 4X4s, but it certainly doesn't for cyclists, or pedestrians or the drivers of smaller cars, as big-car drivers "behave with increasingly Trump-like disregard for the wellbeing of people smaller than themselves".

I still can't get over how little that brilliant farceur Andrew Sachs was paid for playing Manuel in Fawlty Towers a mere £150 an episode for the first series (rising to £300 in the second). As Charles Moore points out in The Daily Telegraph, it is interesting that Jonathan Ross, who along with Russell Brand tormented Sachs with a series of prank calls on Brand's radio show in 2008, was at the time earning £6m a year from the BBC.

Tabloid money sherry gets a hipster makeover

What might the author of A Christmas Carol make of this winter were he among us today, ask Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan in the Daily Express. Marley's Ghost would be late. "Southern Rail's strike made certain of it. Old Marley was as late as an undelivered parcel during the seasonal Post Office walkout." Scrooge would wake, struggling to "pierce the darkness with his ferrety eyes another rolling electricity cut in the power workers dispute" to be met by "a bearded, jolly giant who bore a magically glowing golden hammer and sickle in each hand" proclaiming "I am the Ghost of Labour's Present!" "Spirit," asks Scrooge, "are you the one known as Jeremy Corbyn?" "You're harassing me. I don't have to answer these questions," replied the spirit. "You'll have to find another ghost to show you round Labour Party headquarters."

"Sales of fortified wines (sherry, port and madeira) have more than halved in the past decade, from 22 million bottles a year in 2005 to ten million last year," says Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail. Sparkling wines and gins have taken their place, helped by a "hefty rise in the duty the Treasury charges on fortified wines". Yet a "sherry renaissance is going on" as Spanish Tapas bars "introduce millennials to the pleasures of a chilled Fino." There is buzz in hipster circles about sherry cocktails, while the donnish cities of Oxford, Cambridge and Edinburgh are "sherry hot spots". So forget the 50s stereotypes of Grandma extracting a bottle of sherry from behind the sofa. "A snifter of sherry is nectar at Christmas."

Perhaps the sherry revival is a sign that the only thing the youth are mad for these days is moderation, says Tony Parsons in The Sun. "In my first job in journalism, at the NME in the late Seventies, our editorial meetings could not begin until someone had rolled a spliff the size of a Cornetto. In the offices of the NME today, I bet you can't even vape." Old-school hedonism is a thing of the past: "kids are drinking less, smoking less and deciding that drugs are strictly for the wrinklies". Today's clean teens would "rather be holding their smartphone than a Silk Cut or a Tequila Sunrise or a joint", but "perhaps one day the experts will say that spending all your time gawping at your phone is bad for your brain, eyes and soul".