London Diary| Sunak & Modi same to same? Not quite...

While India is all set for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls—some say may even advance them to benefit from a ‘Ram Mandir bounce’—the British PM would like to postpone elections till public opinion improves

UK prime minister Rishi Sunak and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi have an animated discussion with their gestures mirroring each other's against a backdrop with the legend 'vasudhaiva kutumbakam' (photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
UK prime minister Rishi Sunak and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi have an animated discussion with their gestures mirroring each other's against a backdrop with the legend 'vasudhaiva kutumbakam' (photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
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Hasan Suroor

India and Britain are both due to go to the polls in May.

But while India is all set to stick to the schedule—amid speculation that it may even be advanced to benefit from the ‘Ram Mandir bounce’—British prime minister Rishi Sunak may actually postpone the elections until the autumn, in the hope that his party’s and his own poll ratings may improve.

At the moment, only 6 per cent (yes, six per cent) of voters think the Conservatives have done a good job in government, while only 15 per cent of people believe the Tories are even fit for office. On the other side, 50 per cent of all voters say they would never vote Conservative under any circumstances.

Translation: If Sunak were to go to the polls tomorrow, Conservatives would be slaughtered and handing over the keys of 10 Downing Street to the Labour Party would be inevitable.

But hold your horses. A poll also found that 43 per cent of voters do not think Labour fit for office either, while another 29 per cent are unsure!

Both parties are preparing to step up campaigning in the New Year with a blitz of populist policies, which is pretty much what is going on in India.

Takeaway: Give or take inevitable cultural differences, politics and politicians everywhere are the same.

‘Sexist’ cricketers

Forget Indian wrestling; sexism is also rife in British sport, including cricket.

The assiduously cultivated image of ‘gentlemen’ cricketers—never mind if a tad racist at times—is likely to lose some of its gloss thanks to a new book by a former woman cricketer and journalist.

Michele Savidge’s Between Overs: How Life Gets in the Way of Cricket is a withering account of widespread sexism and misogyny in cricket.

She recalls a series of ‘scary’ encounters with some big names in Test and county cricket.

Michele Savidge, author of 'Between Overs: How Life Gets in the Way of Cricket'
Michele Savidge, author of 'Between Overs: How Life Gets in the Way of Cricket'

One such worthy started getting leery within minutes of her getting into his car.

"You do know I’m going to f*** you later, don’t you?” the former England Test cricketer said as I got into the passenger seat of his plush car. He had collected me at some backwater train station north of London to drive me to a new business enterprise he was setting up,’ she writes.
Michele Savidge, author of 'Between Overs: How Life Gets in the Way of Cricket'

She was so scared that she spent much of the time thinking of ways to escape if he tried to misbehave.

Finally, she told him: “Actually you aren’t. So, if you want to put that out of your mind, we can move on. If not, I will get out.”

‘“Oh!” he replied, a slight smirk on his face. “Okay then. Well, that is disappointing.”’

Another cricketing legend, for whom, she says, she had “the utmost respect”, lost no time flirting with her.

I couldn’t wait to meet this cricketing icon and ask him a ton of questions. I shook his hand, said I was honoured to meet him and sat down, him on my right-hand side. With seemingly no time for any pleasantries, he reached his arm over my waist, grabbed my left hand and jabbed at my ring finger. “Oh! You’re not married then?” he asked.
Michele Savidge, author of 'Between Overs: How Life Gets in the Way of Cricket'

On another occasion, an Olympic gold medallist ‘began pawing at me and making lecherous comments from the moment we were introduced’.

Such are the incidents narrated in the book, most of them having occurred before the #MeToo movement. Things might have improved lately, but a lot still remains to be done.

Samuel Johnson, English author
Samuel Johnson, English author

Love for London is forever

English writer Samuel Johnson famously said, “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.”


In recent years, plenty of Londoners indeed appeared to have got ‘tired of life’ as they left the city in search of the quiet countryside. A trend that was accelerated by the pandemic.

But now, it seems, they are coming back.

The number of Londoners leaving the capital fell to its lowest level for nine years in 2023, signalling an end to the Covid-era ‘race for space’, according to real-estate analysts.

Among the reasons for this U-turn is the realisation that life in the countryside is not as romantic as imagined. Young people, especially, found the inconveniences (poor transport, lack of social life, etc.) that come with pastoral living too much to endure.

“This meant that once I had moved to London, there was little to attract me back to the countryside. I love having shops, restaurants, gyms and museums all within walking distance of my flat,” said Clementine Hudson, a young professional.

Young Londoners walk the pavements dressed for  winter. One of them is wearing a mask.
Young Londoners walk the pavements dressed for winter. One of them is wearing a mask.

Xmas gifting gone wrong

Selecting a gift is always a gamble. One in four Britons received an unwanted Christmas present last year.

One woman reported receiving anti-wrinkle cream from her husband. Another person said they had been given chocolate by their father despite being intolerant to milk, while a vegan said they had received a dead chicken from a butcher friend.

A dead chicken? Really?

And, finally, this from a disgusted Londoner in a letter to the Times: ‘London is the dirtiest, noisiest, smelliest, most impersonal and non-British city in the country. Why anyone lives there is totally beyond me.’

Ask me.

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