The Hound

Why do Germany’s female politicians always wear black slacks?

At the G7 summit in Cornwall, Jill Biden is already the clear winner in the spouse fashion stakes. The wife of the US president wore a black and white printed dress with black jacket for her first European photo-shoot along the promenade with hubby Joe and Boris Johnson and wife Carrie.

On the back of the jacket was the word Love, which promised so much for this weekend’s love-fest between the leaders of the Western World.

Mrs Biden did it again on Friday.  With her sea-bleached blond tousled all-American girl look locks (that’s how the Daily Mail would describe her), she pulled out another jazzy number when she went to school with the Duchess of Cambridge. This time she donned  the brightest fuchsia jacket ever seen to mankind, a white dress and,  to match the outfit, a pair of on trend nude shoes. (That’s also how the Mail would have put it.)

Carrie Symonds has also been doing nicely, showcasing some young British designers with first a bright red outfit (matching shoes from Zara) for her first meeting with the US commander in chief and then another vivid pink dress today. Her fresh dress style is quite clever too, demonstrating how very young she is compared to the other halves.

As you would expect, Brigitte Macron, wife of the French president, arrived on British soil wearing her usual immaculate white Chanel coat – embroidered with pearls and silvery bits. Tight cigarette black pants and black high heels. So chic, so Parisienne.

But what is it about the fashion choices of German female politicians? Both Angela Merkel and Ursula Von der Leyen are wearing black slacks – again. One can see why they might opt for such pedestrian outfits: easy to choose in the morning, shows how seriously they take themselves although my lady doth protest comes to mind, and puts them on a more equal footing with the male politicians who are almost all beyond boring in their boring dark blue suits, often badly cut.

Sure, wearing trousers means you don’t have to worry about the Cornish wind blowing around your skirts. But why black? Black slacks make German female politicians look like waiters – if you are being generous like matadors – rather than leaders of two of Europe’s greatest powers, Germany and the German-run EU.

Why not cool summer beige slacks in the style of Diane Keaton, or navy pants or a matching trouser suit in a pale blue? Ditch the black slacks.

Lloyd Webber “willing to be arrested” over theatre reopening

“Come to the theatre and arrest us”. It may sound like the title of a new musical but it’s the latest threat from a defiant Andrew Lloyd Webber who is fed up with the government’s rules on theatre openings. In an interview with the Daily Telegraph’s theatre critic Dominic Cavendish, Lord Lloyd Webber promised to open his venues at full capacity later this month “come hell or high water” whatever the government rules on social distancing.

The impresario hopes to bring Cinderella, his 17th major musical, to audiences on 14 July, after previews starting in London on 25 June. This £6 million work, with a 34-person ensemble, will not be commercially viable, he said, if audience attendance is limited to half capacity. Two other shows are also in preparation: a new production of The Phantom of the Opera for Her Majesty’s Theatre, and Joseph at the Palladium.

It has already cost the composer a million a month to keep his theatres in the dark, and he claims he has had to remortgage his London home as a result of the closures. Those calling the shots don’t understand the “acute financial stress” his theatres are in, he said.

Lloyd Webber has been an outspoken critic of the government’s handling of the arts during the pandemic, saying ministers regard theatre as a “nice thing to have”, rather than a necessity.

A source from the Joseph production, which is due to reach audiences on 1 July, tells The Hound they have been in intense rehearsals since April. The team, including the child actors, have been working six days a week and there is regular Covid testing to keep everyone safe. And what happens if the government doesn’t ease the rules and Lloyd Webber goes ahead and gets the show on the road?  Will the Met send in the heavy squad to arrest him ? Now that would be some show.

Backlash as Queen’s portrait gets axed from Oxford common room

Rebellious students? Behaving foolishly and tweaking the tail of authority? Whatever next?

There has been an old-style backlash from pundits and politicians after a group of Oxford University students stripped a portrait of the Queen from a senior common room. 

Members of the Magdalen College Middle Common Room voted to remove the picture as part of a refurb, saying the image wasn’t appropriate because it is a symbol of “recent colonial history”. 

Predictably, culture wars warrior Piers Morgan has waded in to protest Queen Liz’s apparent cancellation: “FFS. These woke lunatics are beyond parody. Can we vote to have Monarch-ordered Tower of London imprisonment powers restored for these insolent wastrels?”  

Morgan’s Good Morning Britain successor echoed the sentiment. In an outburst on the show this morning, Richard Madeley branded the students “thick”. Hmmm…

Waving a £10 note in the air, he said: “If you’re watching at Magdalen – you won’t be as you won’t be awake until 9-10 – but assuming that you are, would you rip this up? It’s got a picture of the Queen on it, bit of colonial culture going on there. So would you stop using cash? Actually, I can’t help but think this is a wind-up because it’s so stupid.”

Lorraine Kelly, the Scottish TV host, was similarly scathing.  “I think they’re just really wanting attention, and sadly we’re giving it to them,” said Kelly, giving them attention.

Gavin Williamson, the Education Secretary, labelled the decision “simply absurd”. 

According to Dinah Rose QC, the president of Magdalen, college staff have been receiving “obscene and threatening messages” since the news of the vote spread. Rose has distanced herself from the decision, stressing that “The Middle Common Room is an organisation of graduate students. They don’t represent the College.” 

But she also defended her students’ right to call the shots. “Maybe they’ll vote to put it up again, maybe they won’t.” In the meantime, she has reassured all those incensed by the republican gesture, that the photo will be “safely stored”. 

Apparently without irony given the institution’s track record on cancel culture, Rose issued an icy rebuke aimed at the likes of Morgan: “Being a student is about more than studying. It’s about exploring and debating ideas. It’s sometimes about provoking the older generation. Looks like that isn’t so hard to do these days.

Subscribe to Reaction – £6 monthly or £60 annual – to receive Iain Martin’s newsletter, full access to our site, the team’s daily briefing and invitations to online events. Or register free to receive our best of email and offers