News Column

Comment: Diary: Stephen Bates

July 25, 2014

Stephen Bates



?Will there be a resounding silence in September at the World Nuclear Association symposium and exhibition in Central Hall, Westminster? The world's nuclear industries will be strutting their stuff: 700 business and leaders from 30 countries discussing such issues as the fuel cycle front-end (no, me neither), the security of nuclear fuel supplies, financing new builds, and uranium resources. There will be a reception at Westminster Abbey and a gala dinner at the Natural History Museum. And, to crown it all, a discussion panel. That is due to feature Alexander Lokshin, deputy director general of Rosatom, the organisation that controls Russia's nuclear weapons companies, research institutes and safety agencies; and Lyudmila Zalimskaya of Tenex, which exports the country's nuclear materials, such as enriched uranium, and is big in the Emirates and China. So far 34 Russian delegates have booked (last year there were 70), but it's early days. "We have not been told that they will not be allowed to come," says an organiser. So, business as usual. Maybe.

?Belated diary hats off to Emily Benn, Tony's granddaughter and at 24 the fifth generation of the family to stand for parliament - after recently being selected as Labour's candidate for Croydon South next year after unaccountably failing to dent the Tory majority in Worthing at the last election, when she was 20. Rejoicing too for her is New College Oxford, where she is an alumna, following in granddad's footsteps there too. The family's famous courtesy stretches down as well: she tells the Daily Telegraph that she found the denizens of the Bullingdon Club at Oxford mostly respectful and polite. It was the men attending the university's political societies who were unregenerate and lewd - and they will probably be the ones she'll have to deal with when she finally gets to Westminster.

?Slightly further north of the dreaming spires, residents of Farndon Road in the city's most affluent suburb are breaking out the prosecco at a planning victory against tour operator and multimillionaire Craig Burkinshaw. He bought two of the large Victorian villas there and wanted to emulate the plutocrats of Kensington by burrowing down to hollow out a swimming pool. It has been a long battle but a planning inspector has given them game, set and match: "Quite extraordinary over-development" and "in virtually every regard a step too far". Burkinshaw's Audley Travel specialises in exotic holidays to distant locations, but he has discovered trouble closer to home.

?The football season approaches, and across the land players are rubbing dubbin in their boots in preparation. (Do they still do that?) Hot transfer news therefore in the East Kent Mercury of non-league Dover's signing of midfielder Nicky Deverdics, currently playing for "top flight club" TB Tvoroyri in the Faroe Islands. The big time beckons at the Crabble: watch out Colchester United there tonight.

?The Catholic church has a way of dealing with schismatics, but today there's news of a schism within a schism. The Tablet brings news that Holocaust-denying Bishop Richard Williamson, having split from the arch-conservative Society of St Pius X (they were getting a bit too liberal) has set up on his own in the French Loire. Williamson, a British former schoolmaster whose excommunication from the main Catholic church was briefly lifted by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009, now thinks the Vatican is in the power of Satan. He does not believe women should wear trousers or go to university, still reckons Jews are the enemies of Christ, and says, heretically, that the Sound of Music is "soul-rotting slush". It may therefore be quite a select group attending his masses.

?Finally, on a more elevated level, courtesy of the BBC's favourite cleric, the Rev Richard Coles, yesterday was the feast day of Christina the Astonishing, a 12th-century Belgian saint who could fly and occasionally lived in holes, ovens and ponds while preaching. She sounds rather exhausting, if not tiresome.



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Source: Guardian (UK)


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