For years my ordinarily sensible friends have been coming to me with an absurd invitation. Abandon all the comforts of home, they say, to come and be disgusting in a swampy field. Come destroy your clothes, trash your tastebuds and outrage your nostrils and maybe you’ll glimpse — miles away — Coldplay singing Yellow.
You see, people do insist on inviting me to Glastonbury. Happily this year I’ll be spared as the whole muddy mess has been cancelled because of Covid. I won’t be shedding any tears. It doesn’t make sense to me. It’s just one of those things that will never be a part of the Rinder lifestyle. Attending Glastonbury appears somewhere near the top of my “Oh Dear God, No” list, just above getting my eyeballs tattooed.
It’s not that I don’t love music — but I’ll do much better watching Dolly Parton on my lovely big television, with a glass of wine in my hand and my dog snuffling around my ankles. What snuffles round one’s ankles at Glastonbury doesn’t bear thinking about. It almost certainly has tentacles or will invite you back to its tent — probably both.
On Wednesday, it’s Holocaust Memorial Day. Every year it reminds us of the vital duty not just to remember past tragedies, but also to examine carefully the world as it is today. Last year, I was privileged to work on a BBC documentary called My Family, The Holocaust and Me. The mission of the programme was to shed some light on the individual stories and humanity of just some of the many millions who were murdered. But it also tried to sound a warning that we must never become complacent: the Holocaust happened in a recognisably modern world to people with lives like our own. It really just takes a handful of apparently unrelated economic or political switches to flip, and even the most civilised, enlightened world can descend into atrocity. It can happen anywhere and at any time — Holocaust Memorial Day tries to keep us learning this lesson every year.
One of the heartening things about that programme was in its response: there wasn’t a peep of anti-Jewish racism. It seemed to me to be really good news… hopefully telling these stories is part of stopping them happening again. Another big part of that is simply pausing to reflect. One of the ways to do that this Holocaust Memorial Day is to light a candle and safely place it in a window at 8pm. I’ll be doing it, and I hope many of you will too. It’s a way we can all come together, even if we can’t gather in person and — in the light of a candle — unite in spirit against hatred in all its forms.
Euan Blair, the ex-prime minister’s eldest and hottest son, is now also his richest. He’s managed to put together a start-up valued at about £147 million — and frankly I’m fuming. Where’s my cash? His company recognises that heading off to uni isn’t always the right route to the workplace. Instead it helps young people find high-quality apprenticeships. It’s a strange quirk of fate that Tony Blair pushed so hard to send thousands of teens off to university (leaving them with meaningless degrees and heavily in debt) and now it’s Euan undoing the damage. But I’m still annoyed — because I had this idea first. I realised that real-life experiences were much more important years ago. Stupidly, I didn’t turn my insights into a business. I suppose I’m pleased the message is getting across, but I’d be much happier still if someone gave me a few hundred million for it.