The Jeans of Slave Traders

February 22, 2012 Leave a comment

Some of you may remember a post I wrote a couple of years ago about my disillusionment with Richard Dawkins. A copy of that post is here. Yesterday I was reading one of our local papers and I came across this rather dodgy article here, which took me to the original, but equally dodgy article in the Daily Telegraph here. Read more…

A War Monkey Called Sue! (Further adventures on the Internet.)

January 17, 2012 Leave a comment

Yesterday I read Charles Moore’s review of Stephen Spielberg’s latest film, War Horse. Having seen and thoroughly enjoyed the play, which I saw inLondon, 18 months ago, I read the review with some interest. Without going into details,Moore was less than enthusiastic, criticising Spielberg for the gratuitous sentimentality. What was perhaps more interesting, was the comment section, some of which dealt with aspects of the Great War and the vast tragedy attached to it. Read more…

I Am Fed Up!

November 15, 2011 Leave a comment

I have had just about enough of theses endless cries of ‘racism’ that are being bandied around at every opportunity, not just in Britain, but around the world. While some are legitimate and provide cause for concern, others are trivial in the extreme. What they all share in common, however, is that they are white on black attacks, whether verbal or physical and that they are being pursued with unmitigated vigour by the law and the press. The reason I am so angry is that many cases are as I said, trivial in the extreme while at the same time similar examples of black on white attacks are ignored. Read more…

Use and Misuse of Language

August 26, 2011 3 comments

Following on from certain posts on this site concerning swearing and an article in yesterday’s Telegraph about the fact that students will lose marks for poor grammar, you will be delighted to know that I have decided to give my attention to the use of language in its various forms.

In broad terms, the purpose of language, I hope we can all agree, is for the communication of ideas, feelings and information. Leaving aside signing (and possibly other forms), language falls into two main categories, spoken and written. Within this context, we have several tools at our disposal that enable us to communicate more effectively.   Read more…

All the way from Syria, please welcome Bobby Darin!

August 3, 2011 13 comments

I am in England at the moment, having attended a family wedding.

During my ongoing and rather listless research of my family tree, I sometimes come across some interesting little vignettes. One of them concerns the story of an artifact that once belonged to ancestors of mine.  The “Luck of Edenhall” is a glass beaker that is thought to have been made in Syria in the 13th century, elegantly decorated in blue, green, red and white enamel with gilding.

“If this cup should break or fall
Farewell the Luck of Edenhall!”

 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luck_of_Edenhall. The vessel was donated to the V&A Museum in the 1920s. As I was going to be in London, I thought it might be interesting to go and have a look.

Having tracked down and gazed upon the rather beautiful, heirless heirloom, described as being one of the most important exhibits in the V&A, I went on a wander around the museum. Eventually, I stumbled across a gallery that displayed some of the collections of Horace Walpole from his home at Strawberry Hill in Twickenham. His name had come up in conversation, a few days ago, in relation to a quiz or crossword or some such. I think the reference was to his Gothic novel, Castle of Otranto. (Walpole is thought to have coined the word, ‘serendipity’.) Anyway, I confess that I did not know much about Horace Walpole, so when I got home I googled him. Inevitably, perhaps, that took me to his father Robert Walpole.

Earlier in my visit, I had been staying with my sister and had discovered in  my room a copy of John Gay’s ‘The Beggar’s Opera’. Of course I had heard of Gay and his satirical work and I even knew that he invented the character Macheath, about whom Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill wrote the song,  “Die Moritat von Mackie Messer”. What I did not know was that the highwayman Macheath was based upon Robert Walpole. Had he been alive today, John Gay would surely have been writing for Private Eye.

Anyway, here is Bobby Darrin singing about Britain’s first and longest serving Prime Minister.

Isla de Mozambique – Part 2

February 17, 2011 Leave a comment

Anyway, we arrived at the house to be met by the three guests already there. Jamie is a sort of “Monarch of the Glen” in that he has just inherited an estate with a “bijou” castle, which he hopes to restore to its former glory. Unlike Archie of the TV series, I suspect he is a lot brighter and probably wealthier though perhaps not as aesthetically pleasing to the feminine eye. With him was his brother Rob, who does up houses in Sri Lanka and who speaks Portuguese, having lived in Brazil for a while. The third chap was Peter, a friend of Jamie and also from Scotland, who used to work for the UN in various situations. He presented some interesting insights into the moral irresponsibility and ineptitude of that august body. Peter had also spent a few years working in Zimbabwe for the Camp Fire (game conservation) project in Guruve in the mid-nineties. He remembered discussing dhow safaris with my brother a few years back. All three were thoroughly nice blokes and good company. Read more…

Categories: Memoirs, Travel Tags:

Isla de Mozambique – Part 1

February 16, 2011 Leave a comment

In May 2004 I was visiting Zimbabwe. This is an edited version of a journal I wrote at the time for the ‘benefit’ of friends and relatives, who purported to have an interest in my activities.

On Saturday, I was having elevenses with, Hugo and Molly in Harare. While I was there, Molly got a call from Tomas a mutual friend who had various properties and businesses around Southern Africa, including a villa on Isla de Mozambique to which he was inviting them to visit. Molly told Tomas that Hugo would not be able to take the time off as he had too much work to do, and added rather unconvincingly, nor could she. However, after a nanosecond, she decided that perhaps she could and suggested that Igo instead of Hugo.(Geddit?) I leaped at the opportunity and so it was agreed that they would pick me up the next morning, Sunday, and we would drive to Charles Prince Airport, where Tomas would meet us.

Charles Prince is the second airport serving Harare and is mostly used by private and small commercial craft. Following the arrival at Harare International airport of a plane full of suspected mercenaries in March, the government has become decidedly paranoid about the prospects of a coup attempt in this country. Consequently it has arranged for the Army to position an armoured car and an anti-aircraft gun at each end of the runway. You can imagine that this is slightly disconcerting for inexperienced pilots who probably give more thought than most to the possibility of an aborted take off. How is the gunner likely to react if he sees an aircraft speeding straight towards him when it should be heading into the sky? With a nervous trigger finger, I suspect. But such considerations on the part of the government would be thinking too far ahead. Read more…

Categories: General, Memoirs, Travel Tags: ,
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