The woes of the past few weeks required a period a long, long way from home, in a faraway place with a strange-sounding name. I chose Grenada, in the eastern Caribbean, off-season in tourist terms, which means instant departure, cheap flights and cheap accommodation.
William Hague may laugh a lot, but he has scant sense of the absurd. He's banned the chicken-run, that hallowed Tory tradition permitting Tory MPs or ex-MPs to regard a safe seat as an inalienable human right. Previous beneficiaries include Michael Ancram, Sir Brian Mawhinney and Peter Lilley.
Years and years ago, when The Godfather Part II came out, it got a rave review from Margaret Hinxman, the then film critic on the Daily Mail.
This Christmas, William Hague, Ffion at his side, will be sitting in his Range Rover, enjoying a bottle of wine and some turkey sandwiches as he feasts his eyes upon the Yorkshire Dales. Weather permitting, the two may take up their sticks and go for a walk.
When we moved to the countryside, I had an image of making civilised trips to London. You think of English gentlemen in the Twenties and Thirties: mid-morning train; Trumpers, or whatever it's called, for a haircut; Lobb's to be measured for new boots; then lunch with your wine merchant.
Amnesty International has just published UK Foreign and Asylum Policy: human rights audit 2000. When Kate Allen, Amnesty's UK director, was interviewed on the Today programme, she agreed that new Labour could claim "seven out of ten" for its human rights record.
This has been an awful week. Friends slid into death's dateless night. Nasher, one of a small group of mates who moved around together over 30 years, had suddenly contracted cancer. He seemed to be on the mend. He had convinced us he was.
A new edition of Donald Macintyre's biography of Peter Mandelson suggests that the undisgraced Northern Ireland Secretary will support Gordon Brown in any future election for the Labour leadership. Ir'n Broon is unmoved. "Can't he support somebody else?" he asked colleagues.
I have had some excellent rows in my life, and have come up with one or two devastating last lines, but I've not yet mastered the art of slamming the door behind me.
Every so often, one of the children will come up to me and say: "OK, now: shut your eyes and open your mouth." Or sometimes they say: "OK, now: shut your eyes and hold your hand out." Yes, a surprise is imminent.
Some weeks ago, Sky News asked me to be part of a panel that would question the new chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality, Gurbux Singh. Other panel members were to be Adam Boulton and Yasmin Alibhai-Brown.
Go to the mirror and take a long, hard look at that body of yours. Gone are the days when you thought it was a matter of "the headbone's connected to the neckbone, the neckbone's connected to the shoulderbone . .
Although the members of our little group are rather good on the populist political implications of the fuel crisis and the pseudo-relationships engendered by Big Brother, we're not so hot when it comes to dealing with the death and terminal illness that overtakes our parents from time t
Sarah and Gordon Brown's party was the social event of the parliamentary recess. The ploterati assembled in what looked like a disused aircraft hangar in Southwark.
The ITN reporter in Sierra Leone described the killing by British troops of 25 Africans in their own country as a fine operation, an unqualified success. The rejoicing consumed the British media, which featured a coy appearance by paratroopers who had taken part in the massacre.
It was a typical enough Sunday morning: six of us sitting around in Geoff's backyard, reading our way through a mound of morning papers and trying to outdo each other's moans of exasperation.
It is more than 40 years since Harold Macmillan stood on African soil and proclaimed the wind of change. It was not an act of generosity. Africa had bush-telegraphed revolt in pursuit of independence and of control over those raw materials that were so hotly chased by European imperialists.
Cherie Blair is finally to get her biographer. The film-maker Linda McDougall has signed up to write the book, which will be serialised in the Express. She has asked the first lady for her co-operation, and a frantic telephone conversation with Downing Street is under way.
I am addicted to reading obituaries. I don't want to sound like a complete and utter bastard, but just once I would like to read one that ends: "During his long final illness, he was self-pitying and cowardly, insatiable in the demands he made on those around him." I know I would be.
I am walking down the street and I pass a woman in a flowery dress, mouth stuck to an Evian water bottle. She bounces along, and some of the water spills down her chin. We stop at a pedestrian crossing and I spot a little saliva trickling out of the side of her mouth.
And then there was one. With Mo Mowlam announcing that she will step down as an MP at the next election, only Clare Short is left to stand out from the greyness that is the new Labour Cabinet.
What has happened over the Notting Hill Carnival, I think, is that an old script has been discovered in the archives, dusted down and presented as original thought.
Sarah has let us all down. Only a week after we had agreed that she would be a valuable member of our fortnightly dining club, she turned up at our planning meeting in The George and casually announced that she had decided to become a Christian.
Anthony Lane wrote in the New Yorker that the moment he heard that Speed was about a bus with a bomb on board which would go off if it dropped below 50 miles an hour, he gave an anticipatory grin. Some ideas are like that.
Last week, I mentioned that relations between Asians and blacks in Bradford were at a rather low ebb. In fact, it is much worse than that. There is much blood on the carpet. A group of Asians executed a black man: shot him and slung his body in a river, I hear.
After more than a year, the silence of those who wrote and broadcast the propaganda for Nato's "humanitarian war" over Kosovo remains unbroken: they who answered the Prime Minister's call to join "a great moral crusade" against a regime that was "set on a Hitler-style genocide equivalent to the
For some time now, Stewart Hickman has been gripped by the absurd belief that he bears an uncanny resemblance to Harold Pinter.