I hope I am wrong, of course. But I fear that this week may have been the start of World War III.
It will not be like other world wars, of course, just as the previous ones have also come as unwelcome surprises. This one – if it develops – will see airstrikes matched by bombs on buses and trains, the drones of the western world answered by the scimitar, and appeals for level-headedness leading to beheadings.
It was the events in the Security Council of the UN this week that may well be seen as the watershed, from which there was no easy turning back. Omaba, Cameron, Hollande, Abbott et al were all competing with each other to demonstrate resolve against barbarity. They all felt, undoubtedly, that they had no choice but to declare war on IS. If one’s children are being stung by bees, it is hard to resist the temptation to attack the beehive, even if Continue reading
Sitting in my hotel room, some 30 floors up in Kuala Lumpur, I dodged out of post-conference drinks to finish Ian McEwan’s The Children Act.
It is quite short book, making a sort of trilogy with On Chesil Beach and Saturday. Its background is one I know well: the exhilaration of practising law at a high level, playing Bach and listening to Keith Jarrett, the pleasure of a decent malt whisky and so forth. Into this, he weaves much darker themes: the aching sadness of a long-term marriage turning sour, momentary glimpses of sensuality as the human body starts its descent into old age, and suicide. It is exquisitely written. By the time Continue reading
Generally, I take the view that money does not matter much, as long as you have got some.
How much “some” is might have just gone up. It seems that Bristol Cars have not one but two new models coming up.
Details are, as yet, very sparse. But one thing is for sure: neither of them will be cheap.
I love my Bristol 411. But a new one? It might well be that Continue reading
If Scotland were to leave the UK, should there be a change to the Union Flag (or Union Jack, as it is sometimes known, particularly if it flown as a jack, i.e. at the bow of a ship)? As is well known, it is a composite flag, incorporating elements from the English George Cross, the Scottish Saltire and the Irish St Patrick’s Cross. There has been a fair bit of speculation on the point.
The Welsh did not get much of a look in for their red dragon on a green and while background. So we could just substitute Welsh green for the Scottish Saltire blue background:
Or, in tribute to the weather, grey Continue reading
The Scottish Independence referendum is in a couple of weeks. Only Scots in Scotland get to vote. On the usual basis that people should be allowed to do what they like, I say good for them. If the Scots like to believe that William Wallace wore a kilt, or woad, or was nice to children, or that they will be better off as an independent nation, good for them. Personally, I reckon that if they become independent, they will end as a basket case like Portugal, only with rubbish weather, within a decade. Definitely on the dark side of the moon. Hopefully they will still make and sell whisky.
But what about this side of the wall? As far as England is concerned, the only really compelling reason for union – originally under James I/VI – in the first place was to assist in discouraging Scottish thieves from raiding the North of England all the time. Now that raiding is out of fashion, there is an argument that Continue reading
I was at home yesterday at 5.30 in the late afternoon when Louise said, “Would you like to go and see Bob Dylan in concert tonight?”. He was in Adelaide, it seemed, as part of an Australian tour, and Louise was being offered a pair of tickets by a friend. Having just finished the Times Crossword (gloat) I had nothing else pressing to do, so I said, “Sure. Why not?”
The answer, it turns out, was, “Because this tour is absolutely awful”. He had a prefectly competent band, but everything was played in a plodding monotone, such that even his old (once good) songs were delivered in the same indistinguishable style. Both Dylan and his band played in semi-darkness, feebly backlit by a row of the sort of lights they use for night bowls games, but with low wattage bulbs. So it was impossible to see what was not worth listening too.
Dylan has been a great musician, with a wry sense of humour, who might have retired years ago, except that Continue reading
The ABC (the major Government-sponsored Radio & TV broadcaster in Australia) is a weird organisation.
Having been travelling a fait bit recently, I have been waking up in hotel rooms and, as one does, turning on the TV whilst working out how to get an early morning cup of tea of coffee out of a kettle which is the size and weight of a chaffinch. The ABC have a perfectly likeable chap called Michael Rowland, who does a good job of cheerfully hosting their breakfast programme. His job description evidently calls on him to smile a lot, which is fine – no one wants to listen to a misery-guts first thing in the morning. Should not be hard, you might thing, for an easy-going, affable chap like Michael Rowland.
But the ABC put him through daily torture Continue reading
There is a grizzly irony about the shooting down of MH17 by Ukrainian separatists and the deaths of so many civilians in Gaza – they are both the work of the same people.
Not literally of course, but it works like this. In about 740AD King Bulan of Khazaria converted to Judaism. Probably, this is because he was being squeezed by Orthodox Christians on one side and Islam on the other. Over the next hundred years or so, pretty much all the other Khazars followed suit. Zharaia was in those days a vast state, north of and between the Black and Caspian Seas, being – roughly speaking – modern day eastern Ukraine, southern Russia, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and western Khazakstan. There were a lot of Khazars by the standards of the time: the population of about 1½ million was much bigger than, for example, that of England.
Precisely how many of the world’s Jews descend from the Khazars is a matter of hot debate. Zionists like to think Continue reading
There are a couple of things one might say if a friend suggests that one helps him deliver a use commercial fridge to a cattle station some 2000 kilometers away. They boil down, essentially, to “yes” and “no”. Having just spent a week in trial in Melbourne, I thought it might be good idea to swop my wig for an Akubra for a few days. So I said yes.
The fridge was duly loaded up on the back of a ute. I joined the delivery process at Alice Springs airport: our destination was Napperby Station, just a couple of hundred kilometres out of Alice. The fridge was, of course, quite heavy, but that was no problem, at all: the owner of the station, Roy Chisholm, has loads of boy’s toys, including Continue reading
At the weekend conference, I was given a room with a bathroom adapted for disabled persons. All handles here, handles there and a fold-down seat in the shower.
I am not sure how I felt about that. It was good to be able to have a shower without both elbows banging into the walls. But it did have a distinctly old-people’s home feel about it. Continue reading