A FORTNIGHT ago I asked here whether Theresa May had "done enough… enough to squander the virtually unassailable lead she enjoyed when she triggered the general election."

Of course she did do enough, losing her majority to the biggest swing to Labour, under a leader widely thought unelectable at the start of the campaign, since 1945. Quite an achievement, though easily predictable given a manifesto that alienated core supporters, and gaffes like shying away from a TV appearance alongside her challengers.

Jeremy Corbyn’s success proved there is life in the concept of social democracy.

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Hearteningly it appealed especially to the young. Let’s hope they can carry it through sometime. For the lesson of the great Labour government of 1945-50 is that while people welcomed the welfare state they did not value it sufficiently to want to continue on the course that set it up. Otherwise why did they restore Tory rule in 1951.

All that is history. Now, Mrs May needs support from Northern Ireland to save her government. What goodies will be given to secure it? As a starter we can be sure there soon won’t be a pothole in Northern Ireland.

WITH the election not quite upon us, the death of Peter Sallis rightly earned warm tributes. Sallis was treasured as the easy going, diffident Clegg in Last of the Summer Wine, and the homely voice of the cheese-loving eccentric inventor Wallace.

An obituary observed: “Sallis specialised in little men and never attempted anyone of heroic stature.”

Maybe, but I’m here to tell you that, years before he took either of the roles that made him famous, I saw him play the villain in Frederick Knott’s then new thriller, Wait Until Dark.

Threatening a character played by Honor Blackman Sallis gave an unsettlingly-sinister performance, packed with under-stated flesh-creeping menace. Clegg it certainly wasn’t.

Still, that obituary recognised that “Sallis had a way of making quietness compelling.”

To the gratitude of millions, he finally turned that gift to comedy.

A LESS-NOTED death at around the time of Sallis’s was that of the Yorkshire (Beverley)- born poet and novelist Helen Dunmore. That she died at the age of just 64 seemed particularly cruel given that she wrote an outstanding life-affirming poem, Glad of these times, which she was always asked to read at festivals.

Its 11 short verses include these wonderful lines: “Because I did not die in childbirth/ because my children will survive me/ I am glad of these times…I am not hungry, I do not curtsey/ I lock my door with my own key/ and I am glad of these times.”

Not all her reasons to be glad – “glad of twenty types of yoghurt/ glad of cheap flights to Prague” – will resonate with everyone but as an antidote to gloom and depression the poem has few modern equals.

‘Glad of these times’ even seemed to determine Helen’s approach to her terminal cancer. “There is no vagueness about my mortality,” she remarked. “But I think of a young man or woman in the Middle East who has lived less than a third of the years I’ve enjoyed and is now alone in a cell, tortured, condemned to death, and very likely denied even a funeral.”