Digested week: Prince Harry’s forthcoming memoir will tell us what we already know | John Crace

The royal family needn’t worry about its contents – ‘self-examination and the power of love over grief’


‘With its raw, unflinching honesty, Spare is a landmark publication full of insight, revelation, self-examination and hard-won wisdom about the eternal power of love over grief.’ This prepublication blurb for Prince Harry’s forthcoming memoir – a friend thinks that Entitled would have been a better title than Spare – could hardly promise more.

Yet while it’s likely to be better than many celebrity memoirs – Penguin have employed JR Moehringer, who ghosted Andre Agassi’s excellent Open, to do the writing – it’s hard to know why the rest of the royal family are reportedly so nervous about its contents. Unless he’s going to spill the beans on their various sexual preferences. Because everything else Harry is likely to say we already know. That his father was a bit emotionally remote, he was deeply affected by the death of his mother, he lost his way in his 20s, he deeply regrets dressing up in Nazi uniform, Meghan taught him how to love again, various members of the royal family are a bit racist, Prince William has turned against him, he loves his rescue battery hens and he was very hurt not to be allowed to wear military uniform at the Queen’s funeral comes as no surprise.

Unless I’m missing something, what really would be a revelation would be for Harry to admit that, all things considered, he’s led a rather cushy, privileged life and if one of the worst things that happened to him was that he was born only second in line to the throne, then he might have done better not to have taken a reported £20m for a four-book deal – does anyone want to read Harry on leadership and wellness? – and to have sucked it up and not made such a fuss.


The last Sunday in October is always one of the most depressing days in the calendar. The day the clocks go back an hour and it is dark by five in the afternoon. While there are some who believe passionately in GMT – either because they love the long periods of evening darkness or they think it’s part of the natural order of things – most people I know would rather have more daylight in the afternoons.

Back in the late 60s there was a three-year trial of all-year British Summer Time, during which road traffic deaths went down. So surely, 50 years on, it’s time to revisit the experiment. Not least during an energy crisis when there’s potential for private households, shops and businesses to make some savings.

If it turns out that there is little difference in energy costs and child safety on the way to and from school and that most people actually prefer GMT, then fine. People like me will stop going on about it. And if it turns out that the Scots want GMT – we’re often told that one of the main reasons for keeping GMT is because it suits Scottish farmers better – then fine. There’s no reason why time shouldn’t a devolved matter. It wouldn’t be so complicated for England and Scotland to be set an hour apart for six months of the year. The USA and Australia cope with different time zones, so I’m sure we could also manage. Curiously enough, it was reported that Kwasi Kwarteng was going to suggest a change to permanent change to BST in his mini-budget but was talked out of it. Typical, really. He ditched the one measure that most of the country actually wanted.


Westminster never fails to serve up surprises. On Monday Suella Braverman actually came to the House of Commons to make a statement on the immigration crisis. That in itself was a turn-up: but it was what happened next that astonished me. She looked up at the press Gallery, smiled and waved at me. Just to be clear. I have been to many events at which she has been speaking, but we have never said hello to one another. So was she just being friendly or did she mistake me for someone else? If she was hoping my sketch would be more gentle on her, she was in for a disappointment. Or maybe she actually enjoys being in the sketch. It’s a mystery. I admit to being disconcerted. But I thought it polite to wave back.

Still, all that was as nothing compared to “Door” Matt Hancock’s ongoing midlife crisis. A colleague has banned her husband from wearing a roll-neck sweater as it gives her PTSD. Only last week, Matt was trying to push himself to the front of the queue of acolytes waiting to greet Rishi Sunak’s coronation. He looked totally crushed to be ignored. But now he’s bounced back from being overlooked yet again for a return to the frontbenches and has signed up for I’m a Celebrity.

It turns out that Matt doesn’t yet think the country has had enough of him and that if only people got to see more of him then they would fall in love with him. In the same way, presumably, that we all fell in love with him when we saw the CCTV footage of him groping someone else’s wife. But Matt’s delusions are limitless. He seems to imagine that people will be tuning in to Ant and Dec’s reality show just to hear Matt explain how misunderstood he is and to give him a chance to talk about what matters to him. The £350K he’s reportedly getting paid would be a good place to start. What Matt doesn’t seem to realise is that the country doesn’t like politicians at the best of times and hasn’t forgiven him for sending countless elderly patients with Covid back to die in care homes. So it’s odds-on he will be voted in for every cruel and unusual punishment. Starting with eating kangaroo anus. Still, I might actually watch the show this time.


It’s been well over a year and a half now, but my mental health is still fairly rubbish. I had hoped it might improve once the worst of the pandemic was over and lockdown restrictions had been lifted, but I’m still struggling. In the past, these episodes have normally only lasted for a few months, after which my shrink has tweaked the meds and life has become more manageable again. But this time, nothing seems to work.

It’s at its worst first thing in the morning. Every day without fail. I wake up after a night of disturbing dreams with an overwhelming sense of dread. I don’t even know what I’m anxious about, but it’s so intense, so physical, that I can’t even get out of bed. I just have this feeling that I’ve already failed at the day and the one thing on my mind is how I could possibly get out of everything I’m meant to be doing later on. I lie in bed, willing myself to fall back to sleep so I can wake up a few minutes later in an altered state where the anxiety has passed. But that never happens. There is no escape.

Eventually I reach a point where I force myself to get out of bed and to engage with the world and slowly, slowly, the day improves. I can get to work. And when I get there, I enjoy it: the meeting with friends and colleagues and the absurdities of Westminster. But come the evening, I’m already focused on the terrors of waking up the next day. Hoping that something is going to change. But knowing that it won’t. So I just plod onwards. I continue to take my meds because I’m worried I would be worse off without them. I do my breathing exercises. I enjoy ceramics: there’s a wonderful exhibition of the brilliant Jennifer Lee and Shōji Hamada at the Ditchling Museum of Art and Craft just outside Brighton. And I see friends. I also go to the football, because there’s no better place to be reminded how little control I have over the world. I am thinking of just turning up at half-time from now on, though. After all, Spurs don’t seem to turn up for the first half these days. So why should I?


Matt Hancock has rightly copped a lot of flak for skiving off to Australia when he is meant to be working on behalf of his Suffolk constituents. But he isn’t the only one to be ditching the day job. Boris Johnson recently went to the Dominican Republic for an extended break while parliament was sitting, only returning to the UK when another vacancy for the top job arose. And Liz Truss has also decamped to Greece for a long hols. Yet the public seem rather more forgiving to Johnson and Truss. Perhaps they think the two have done enough damage already and would rather they kept away from politics indefinitely.

Two people who have been working flat out are the Sun’s political editor, Harry Cole, and the Spectator’s, James Heale. Back in August the pair were commissioned to write a book on the rise of Liz Truss. Halfway through the project, they realised they were in a race against time to chart her spectacular fall from grace. Out of the Blue is full of great details. Truss’s mother regularly used to dress up as a banana and protest in favour of fair trade. Truss had a rider as foreign secretary banning shop-bought sandwiches and anything with mayonnaise. And demanding a chilled bottle of Sauvignon for overnight stays.

But perhaps what is most telling is the portrait we get of Truss herself. Far from being the ideologue she believes herself to be, she mainly comes across as a compulsive, self-promoting careerist. Take Brexit. She originally said she was in favour of leaving the EU but backed remain because “it was so obviously going to win”. There were few stronger advocates of staying in the EU during the referendum campaign. Then in a heartbeat she switched to leave on 24 June 2016. She really didn’t care that much either way.

Then there was the massive sulk when she was moved from justice secretary to chief secretary to the Treasury. Even though she had been hopeless at justice. Her own opinion of her talent was completely at odds with reality. Finally there were the endless photo opportunities. At one stage as foreign secretary she was uploading a new picture of herself every five hours to the government’s Flickr account. Still, when she makes it back to parliament at least she will have photographic evidence that she was the future once.

Digested week: I’m a Celebrity … Humiliate Me

Joe Biden: “With this gear I can’t even remember my own name, let alone Rashid Sanook.”
Joe Biden: ‘With this gear I can’t even remember my own name, let alone Rashid Sanook.’ Photograph: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images


John Crace

The GuardianTramp

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