Friday. 12/7/2019

The Monocle Minute

Opinion / Rob Bound

Make a meal of it

It’s Friday and your abstemious weekday ways – such as they are – should be cast to the wind. Depending upon which time zone you’re reading this in, you’ll be looking forward to breakfast, lunch or dinner. But, with apologies to the Epistle of St Paul to the Corinthians, the greatest of these is lunch. So make sure you do it right.

You’ll read below of the great François de Rugy, the bougie French ecology minister, who’s been hauled across the coals for throwing lavish banquets when he was president of the country’s National Assembly but is now calling on France to tighten its belt. De Rugy’s belt? He’ll be loosening it a notch, thanks very much. De Rugy – St François of the Élysée to his grocer and wine merchant – is right to act in accordance with the pomp of his office. So why not get pompy with your office this lunchtime?

A late lunch that picks you up and whisks you effortlessly to the balmy climes of the weekend is the greatest single act of inclusion and joy in which it is possible to partake with a workmate (obvious exclusions apply). Millions are spent on wet team-building weekends in the wilderness when the greatest bonding is done at a table over Dover sole and Puligny-Montrachet (it even sounds like a bloody peace treaty). A teetotal Trump is an obvious warning to the civilised world. We wish you a bon weekend and recommend a revitalising luncheon beforehand. Lunch it or lose it, readers.

Defence / South Korea

Chain of command

South Korea is engaged in a delicate balancing act: it needs to carry out war games to keep its defences at the ready but do so in a way that doesn’t aggravate its northern neighbour. Next month it will partner with US forces for drills designed to be discreet: rather than deploying thousands of troops and mobilising heavy weaponry, manoeuvres will focus on small simulations and virtual drills. During peacetime, South Korea has the prerogative to command its own military. In the event of open conflict, however, its forces would come under the direction of US generals. But South Korea’s president, Moon Jae-in, wants to reclaim full control. Such a move should be considered carefully: it might be seen by North Korea as an act of aggression.

Geopolitics / The US and India

Rough trade

Since taking office, President Trump has made a habit of telling anyone who will listen that he is putting US interests above all else. So it is perhaps a bit rich that he is asking India to relax its own protectionist policies. Representatives from the two countries will meet in New Delhi today to resume strained trade talks that were put on hold as Indians went to the polls. Narendra Modi, who was re-elected in May, has been pushing nationalist policies with high tariffs to support domestic companies and create jobs. Trump wants him to be more open, describing the current arrangements as “unacceptable”. Despite a meeting between the two leaders at the recent G20 summit, there appears to be slim hope of progress.

Politics / France

Glutton for punishment

France’s culinary prowess is well known – its fine food is one of the reasons it topped our most recent Soft Power Survey. But the indulgence of the country’s ecology minister is proving hard to swallow. François de Rugy, who is tasked with slashing public spending, is facing a grilling for hosting lavish taxpayer-funded dinners at the Hotel de Lassay in Paris when he was president of the National Assembly. De Rugy says that the feasts – which featured giant lobsters, champagne and €500 bottles of wine – were “related to the exercise of his duties”. Despite calls for his resignation, De Rugy is keeping his position. A government spokeswoman said that such dinners help ministers “feed their understanding of society”. Clearly De Rugy has an insatiable appetite for public opinion.

Aviation / Japan

Flight upgrade

All Nippon Airways (ANA) has spent the past five years redesigning 12 Boeing 777-300ER jetliners with the help of renowned architect Kengo Kuma and UK transport-design specialists Acumen. Drawing inspiration from modern Japanese homes, ANA’s new Business Class seats offer doors for privacy and roomy sofas that are double the width of the previous design. Rosewood and Japanese ash finishes are a nod to the country’s design heritage. ANA has also taken note of the tidying craze ushered in by decluttering guru Marie Kondo: compartments enable flyers to stow away troublesome paraphernalia. The first redesigned aircraft will take to the skies on 2 August, serving London to Tokyo.

M24 / The Urbanist

Wellbeing and cities

We discuss wellbeing in our urban environments. Reporting from the inaugural Wellbeing Cities Forum in Montréal, we examine how to live well in a city and dissect the social, economic and cultural aspects of urban life.

Monocle Films / Culture

The secret to buying a painting

Alexander Gilkes, co-founder of online auction house Paddle8, unveils the alchemy that surrounds the world of collecting art.

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