London Diary: Hoardings in Birmingham plead to be rescued from an arranged marriage
A 29-year-old entrepreneur from Birmingham hired several advertising hoardings at prominent sites emblazoned with a large photograph of himself with the caption, “Save me from an arranged marriage”
Dating with a difference
Normally, you would expect a bachelor, looking for a partner and opposed to arranged marriages, to approach a dating agency, but that was before Mohammad Malik appeared on the scene with a dramatic twist to the usual route to find a soulmate.
The 29-year-old entrepreneur from Birmingham decided to hire several advertising hoardings at prominent sites emblazoned with a large photograph of himself with the caption, “Save me from an arranged marriage”. Interested parties were advised to contact him through his website, findmalikawife.com.
It said: “It’s tough out there. I had to get a billboard to get seen. My ideal partner would be a Muslim woman in her twenties who’s striving to better her deen [faith]. I’m open to any ethnicity but I’ve got a loud Punjabi family — so you’d need to keep with the bants.” “Bants”, by the way, is a local slang for banter.
The initial response, he claims, has been encouraging but women haven’t been exactly falling over each other to catch his eye.
Populism? What populism?
Contrary to conventional wisdom that populism is riding an unstoppable wave around the world, the fact is that support for it is collapsing, according to what is claimed to be the most comprehensive study into the effect of the pandemic on global politics.
On the other hand, trust in experts —scientists, doctors, technocrats— has increased, especially in Europe, claims the study conducted by Cambridge University. The number of people saying they are comfortable with having “experts make decisions according to what they think is best” has risen sharply reversing the pre-pandemic trend when it was fashionable to dismiss experts as good-for-nothing busybodies.
The study, The Times reported, drew on surveys of more than 750,000 people across 109 countries and found that “support for populist parties, agreement with populist attitudes and the approval ratings of individual populist leaders had fallen sharply since the emergence of the coronavirus”. It was attributed to a“perception that leaders such as Donald Trump and President Bolsonaro of Brazil had mismanaged the spread of the disease”.
Researchers also claim that the pandemic has been a “unifying event” despite divisions over the inequitable distribution of vaccines with rich countries monopolising the bulk of the supply leaving “crumbs” for poorer countries.
Tempted to reach for a pinch of salt?
Bye, bye monarchy?
The sex scandal surrounding Prince Andrew, accused of abusing an under-age American girl, has reignited the debate over the future of British monarchy, casting a shadow over the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations in the summer.
For many of her otherwise loyal subjects, l’affaire Andrew —the latest in a series of scandals surrounding the royal family —is the last straw: a confirmation that the institution has no future with the number of those who favour abolishing the monarchy registering a marked increase though still outnumbered by those who believe that monarchy defines Britain’s sense of national identity.
Meanwhile, the media is buzzing with excitement over plans to organise a baking competition to mark the Jubilee. The challenge is to come up with a “Platinum Pudding” to be judged by some of Britain’s leading food experts including the head chef at Buckingham Palace, Mark Flanagan.
His advice to competitors is to “keep it simple”.
“Don’t try to include too many different flavours or textures in one dish, he said.
‘Dead meat’ Boris
Omicron? What’s that?
The real talk of the town in January has been over the future of Boris Johnson following the “partygate” scandal, a reference to a series of secret booze parties held at Downing Street in breach of Covid lockdown rules. He himself attended many of these with his wife, Carrie, in tow.
First, he tried to lie his way through it describing them as “work meetings”; when that didn’t work, he pretended he was misled by his staff and feigned to be “outraged” by their behaviour; and when that didn’t work either he turned up in Parliament to apologise. Which nearly worked.
It didn’t because barely hours later it emerged that one such party was held just when the Queen was photographed grieving alone for her late husband because of lockdown restrictions. That proved to be the last straw causing outrage even among his hardcore loyalists with many of his own MPs and ministers urging him to step down.
So, has his luck finally run out? Political pundits and opinion polls suggested that he was hanging on to his job literally by his fingernails. Offering a flavour of the mood in his party, The Sunday Times quoted a former cabinet minister as saying that “Boris is finished”.
Another said: “It’s no use him surviving this mess, it is now obvious to everyone that he doesn’t know how to govern.”
Meanwhile, Downing Street was said to resemble a “morgue” with long faces moping around, waiting for the funeral, and his plans to ride out the crisis dismissed as “Operation Dead Meat”.
And, lastly, Downing Street is now referred to as “Drowning Street” after reports of a series of booze parties held there allegedly in breach of Covid lockdown restrictions.
(This was first published in National Herald on Sunday)