My week: Ben Summerskill has an evening in

Tuesday: I skim the Daily Mail on return from a week off, and among the usual catalogue of scare stories I note a disobliging piece about Prince Charles.

"Charles is regularly outed as one of the Royal Family's biggest users of private planes," writes reporter Rebecca English. Outed? Without so much as the qualification of quote marks? Modern life must be disturbing enough for Mail editor Paul Dacre without the insinuation of gay parlance into his pages.

Wednesday Farming Today features an arresting parable of the way we live now. Dartmoor shepherds are considering giving their flocks electronic tags. Apparently they're being abducted so they can be turned into illicit inner-city kebabs.

I've kept at least one of my new year resolutions. One evening each week since Christmas I've managed to avoid meetings, receptions and so on.

Instead, I stay in and read for three hours, so I'm able to finish my ex-colleague Will Hutton's new book The Writing on the Wall, an analysis of China. It's insightful, intellectual, rigorous, counter-intuitive and generous. Just like its author.

Thursday My brilliant PA Sam has successfully applied to become a policy officer. It's partly my own fault: I've encouraged every talented assistant I've ever had to believe they're fit for far more than merely working for me. At least it means Sam's staying with us, satisfying our commitment to internal career development. A member of the recruitment panel discloses that only one applicant turned out to have "serious basket-weaving tendencies". A lucky escape for them and for us.

Shortly after my arrival four years ago, a candidate for a job walked in and sang the entire first verse of Ding, Dong Merrily on High. In September. He announced: "Now I've got your attention. And that's what marketing's about." (He was unsuccessful too.)

Friday As the Church of England conclave in Dar es Salaam closes, some African bishops still have all too little to say about world poverty or female circumcision. They have all too much to say about anti-gay prejudices, however.

Newspapers report that Rowan Williams fears he "can't" prevent schism.

I'm reminded of a schoolteacher who never let us use the word. "My great uncle was a Farrier Sergeant stationed at Bangalore, Summerskill," he said. "He never, ever allowed his men to use the word 'can't'. It wasn't in his vocabulary.

"He once deployed a passing fire engine. To give an enema to an elephant."

Ben Summerskill is chief executive of Stonewall 

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