Diary thoughts: a long-ago squash game… the terrible Liz-fer… a passport to nowhere quick…

Watching the squash on TV at the Commonwealth Games stirred a few thoughts. The first one was, Oh, so that’s how you’re meant to play. The ball powers down the side wall and bounces off the back wall, and is hit again, and again. Thwacking hell, what a sight. The game was between James Willstrop (above) and Rory Stewart, who is ten years younger than the man they call the Marksman. Squash players like a nickname. Mine is the Man Who Always Melts Into A Pool Of Sweaty Despair. Willstrop wobbled but won in the end (only to be defeated by Joel Makin). At one point the commentator said: “The younger man is moving so well.” This raised an alternative commentary: “The 65-year-old is moving quite well for a man who woke up this morning with a stiff hip. He even managed a rally lasting almost a minute. But now he has dropped his racket on the floor and is staring at the wall, muttering. The 71-year-old has beaten him again.”

The thing is, I think I played Willstop once in Harrogate. This wasn’t due to squash prowess but for a feature. He was a young squash champion; I was a fortysomething bumbler about the court. I haven’t kept the cutting and can find no record online. If blurred memory serves, it was for a series called Have A Go. There was no cutting in the box of dusty newsprint dedicated to 25 or so years of column writing, and to newer magazine articles. Perhaps I should throw away all those words.

The Tory leadership contest continues as if it were a general election. It’s not; it’s a private poll of a small number of cruddy old Tories. Yesterday, Liz Truss, widely seen as the likely winner (and God help us all), had a bit of a wobble, a pleasing sight. That woman grabs right-wing policies like a breathless supermarket shopper given five minutes to fill her trolley for free. Off she goes, pulling items from the Woke aisle; now she’s plundering armfuls of Growing The Economy Cornflakes. Now she piles into the barmy offers, harvesting £8.8 billion of savings by saying she will cut the pay of civil servants and other government workers who live outside of London. Outrage follows, and even some Tories point out that this is hardly levelling up. A U-turn occurs, but not before Liz For Leader – Lizfer, for short – has complained of “wilful misrepresentation of our campaign…There will be no proposal taken forward on regional pay boards for civil servants or public sector workers.” Ah, and where did this “wilful misrepresentation” originate? In her own campaign press release sent to journalists that very morning. More please, that woman is getting away with blue murder.

Lizfer has the backing of the Daily Mail this morning. Presumably because one reckless blonde-haired egotist addicted to self-serving cakeism isn’t enough. The paper has this barmy line: “All political careers, Enoch Powell famously said, end in failure. Boris Johnson is a striking exception to that rule…” Have it your way, but his career has literally just ended in failure as he is being removed by his own MPs for being a total liability. Barmy Avenue, a suburban road that leads nowhere.

Thanks to the financial expert Paul Lewis for pointing this out on Twitter. The heft of the British Passport has declined. In 2010, it was ranked as the most powerful in the world by the Henley Passport Index, and we could visit more destinations without a visa than any other nationality. Now it’s 13th. It must be another of those “Brexit benefits”. Still, at least it’s blue, as you may notice while waiting in one of those queues.

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