Friday. 11/9/2020

The Monocle Minute

Opinion / Andrew Tuck

Do the right thing

On 27 August last year a car outside a US military base in Northamptonshire, England collided with a motorbike ridden by 19-year-old Harry Dunn. Dunn was killed but the alleged driver of the vehicle, Anne Sacoolas, the wife of an American intelligence officer on the base, has not been tried, despite being charged. This is because US authorities rapidly removed Sacoolas and her husband from the UK, citing diplomatic immunity. And so began a tussle as the UK sought the extradition of Sacoolas, which was denied. Dunn’s parents (pictured, second and fourth from left) even travelled to the White House to meet President Trump, to no avail. Now there is talk of trying her in absentia – a rarity in UK courts – and some hints that Sacoolas might be willing to appear virtually.

The year before I was born, my 10-year-old brother was riding his bicycle when he was struck by a car driven by an American serviceman. My brother was killed. As I grew up, I was aware of a lone picture in my parents’ bedroom of a child who looked oddly like me but he was mentioned rarely. I knew that there was a tin in their bedroom that contained memories of his life: a watch, some collectors’ cards. He was a shadow that sometimes passed through our lives but it was only many years later, as an adult, that I dared ask my sisters what had happened on that day.

The parents of Harry Dunn seek through their legal actions some sense of that complicated and perhaps modern word, “closure”. I am not sure that it ever comes – in old age my mum would occasionally confuse me with my brother; talk to me as though I were him. But even if this process cannot deliver freedom from all their pain, Anne Sacoolas should come and face the Dunns. If she doesn’t, the reverberations will edge across the years, adding fissures to people’s lives.

Diplomacy / Norway

Open to negotiation

From its role in brokering the Farc peace deal in Colombia to doling out the Nobel Peace prize every year, Norway has long been adept at addressing difficult international issues with a light touch. This week the country’s soft-power CV grew a little bigger when it was chosen to help lead the Access to Covid-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, a World Health Organization-backed initiative to organise distribution of pandemic provisions for nations predominantly inhabited by low- and middle-income groups. The project launched in earnest yesterday with a digital summit, attended by Norwegian prime minister Erna Solberg (pictured). This set out an action plan for sourcing the full $31bn (€26bn) needed for two billion vaccines, as well as tests and medicines. However, with Russia, China and the US involved, reaching consensus will take some diplomatic wrangling. “It will be demanding,” Dag-Inge Ulstein, Norway’s minister for foreign development, told Norwegian daily Verdens Gang. “But this is something that we must make happen to stop the pandemic.” Few nations come better equipped at negotiating a way to succeed.

Finance / Singapore

Credit where it’s due

Having money in the bank is the end game for most businesses but in uncertain times a new generation of lenders are offering loans to businesses that they believe in. As the pandemic hit Singapore, Goldbell Financial Services’ CEO Alex Chua (pictured, left) helped to start the “Hope Fund” to aid honest and interesting businesses that lacked lines of credit or access to conventional lenders. In its first two months it pledged SG$5m (€3m) to keep smaller ventures going.

“We are a projects-based business, so we are at the mercy of our clients’ plans,” says Craig McMillan, co-founder of communications agency Motion, which benefited from the deftly deployed scheme after rigid lending criteria set down by conventional banks meant that access to funds would be a drawn-out process. “There was so much uncertainty but the fund gave us clarity in our decision making.” Motion since repaid its debts early. For more inspirational business stories and tips on starting and improving your own venture, pick up a copy of The Entrepreneurs, on newsstands now.

Hospitality / Tokyo

Ditching the night cap

Good news for Tokyo’s beleaguered hospitality industry: yesterday the city’s government announced an end to its voluntary request for bars in the centre to close at 22.00. With the number of coronavirus cases falling, Tokyo’s governor Yuriko Koike said that the alert system is being dropped from the highest level – where it has been since 15 July – and that measures to discourage people from attending public events and travelling outside the city will also be lifted. Karaoke bars were regularly cited as the source of a recent surge in cases in the capital but polite requests from the city government have been enough to keep the crowds away. Although striking a balance between public safety and keeping the economy open hasn’t been easy, this relaxing of guidelines is sure to be a relief to many small bars and restaurants.

Transport / Italy

Marque of respect

The Autodromo di Modena race track, in the northern Italian city that’s famed for its motoring history, proved to be a fitting site this week for the launch of Maserati’s new supercar, the MC20 (pictured). A return to the Modena-based marque’s racing roots, the car’s sleek design features butterfly doors and references to the brand’s trident insignia. “You have to look into the archives a little bit because you cannot just create something out of the blue,” Klaus Busse, head of design, tells the Monocle Minute. But the car company isn’t just looking to the past. All of its future models will be available in electrified versions and there is talk of further autonomous driving functions. The attachment to “Made in Italy” is also stronger than ever: the MC20 is the first Maserati made entirely in Modena for 20 years.

M24 / Food Neighbourhoods

Recipe edition, Stevie Parle

The top UK chef and restaurateur shares his favourite pasta recipe.

Film / The Netherlands

Blossoming business

The Netherlands is a world leader in the horticulture industry and shows no sign of wilting. We visit a delicately orchestrated flower auction, a grower and a florist to unpack the challenges of this fragrant business.

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