Tuesday 24 January 2017

'Ireland may quit EU,' says Farage - and only a fool would dismiss him

Published 30/11/2016 | 02:30

Love him or loathe him, former Ukip leader Nigel Farage has a remarkable political achievement under his belt (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Love him or loathe him, former Ukip leader Nigel Farage has a remarkable political achievement under his belt (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

I love the word 'bedlam', meaning insane or totally out of control. It comes from the Royal St Mary Bethlehem Hospital in Bishopsgate, London. The Royal Bethlehem was an asylum dating back to the 15th century where poor creatures suffering from seizures and other afflictions were remanded to end their days roaring and screaming, packed away out of sight. Bethlehem was abbreviated to Bedlam and the word bedlam fell into common usage.

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In the old days, the descent from normality to lunacy might be rapid or unpredictable, largely because our understanding of medicine and psychiatry was limited.

One person who moved from being a pillar of society to becoming an inmate of Bedlam was Augustin Pugin, architect of London's Big Ben. I'm thinking about Pugin and Bedlam because I am walking down Albert Embankment. It's cold, crisp and sunny in London and the turrets of the House of Commons across the river from me are twinkling in the sunlight.

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