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Aidan Hartley rss

Aiden Hartley is the Spectator’s Wild Life columnist.

Down Mexico way

12 December 2007

Nogales, Mexico After the purgatory of Arizona, I was so happy to cross the Mexico frontier I could have French-kissed the filthy streets. It was just like home in Africa.… Read more

Mid-life crisis

31 October 2007

I had an epiphany at 5.30 a.m. the other day in a Shanghai club packed with gangsters, prostitutes and flat-bellied Thai transsexuals. I watched a little guy, in his forties… Read more

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The terrible secrets of Beijing’s ‘black jails’

10 October 2007

The author’s arrest while investigating Chinese prisons A crowd of faeces-stained, starving figures with haunted eyes stared at us from behind the bars. Some looked cold and wet, as if… Read more

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Blot on the landscape

3 October 2007

Malindi I watched a nest of baby turtles hatch on the beach in front of my mother’s house recently. What a hellish start to a life, I thought. You burrow… Read more

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Bread and circuses

5 September 2007

Beijing I am in Beijing making a film about the Olympic city with an ex-Lancashire police constable named Andrew. We spend our days aimlessly zooming around vast building sites. Most… Read more

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Home truths

15 August 2007

Laikipia I ask my neighbours how one fixes a chimney. Laikipia I ask my neighbours how one fixes a chimney. ‘Throw a live, flapping turkey down it,’ says one. It… Read more

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Raid rage

25 July 2007

Northern Kenya I sat down to write this next to the skull of a Samburu cattle rustler who recently fell in battle. Nothing remains of him for us to bury… Read more

Flying high

30 May 2007

Kenya I have hated flying since 1989, when I was in a Boeing 737 that crashed into an Ethiopian mountain, lost its wings and burst into flames. Surviving that one… Read more

House work

25 January 2007

Laikipia Our farmhouse is at the finishing stage and Wachira, the electrician from Large Power and Control, is advising me on aesthetics. ‘A spotlight in the garden is a beauteous… Read more

Horribly close to a holy war

24 January 2007

Kiunga, on the Kenya–Somali border  He was a quiet American, and an oddity in Kiunga. For 20 hours I had rammed the Range Rover through tsetse fly-infested jungles teeming with… Read more

Inside story

13 December 2006

Kibera Court No. 2 Normally, I would bribe a traffic policeman, but very occasionally it feels good to hit back against the system. ‘Go ahead. Book me,’ I said. The… Read more

Kenya’s trials

24 May 2006

Nairobi Tom Cholmondeley has done it again. The scion of Kenya’s Delameres has shot dead another black African trespasser on his Rift Valley farm. This is his second in a… Read more

Dirty work

18 May 2006

Democratic Republic of Congo This week I joined United Nations forces in the Congo for an offensive against rebel militias. ‘We’re the only ones who want to fight,’ said the… Read more

Hope in hell

18 February 2006

Nairobi The finest view of what Kenya’s corrupt political leaders have done to this beautiful nation may be observed from the summit of Africa’s largest rubbish dump, Nairobi’s Dandora dumpsite.… Read more

Ode to a leaf

21 January 2006

Laikipia According to an imminent Home Office decree, I am on drugs, I cultivate drugs and I intend to push drugs. I thought Blair’s government was moving to decriminalise narcotics… Read more

Terror in Mogadishu

8 October 2005

On a recent drive in downtown Mogadishu with ten heavily armed bodyguards, I passed the site of the old US embassy, and observed a melancholy scene that Britain and the… Read more

How African leaders spend our money

25 June 2005

Bob Geldof has urged us not to dwell on ‘the corruption thing’ — but, says Aidan Hartley, corrupt African leaders are using Western aid to buy fleets of Mercedes Benz… Read more

Don’t Worrie Be Happy

2 April 2005

Swat, Pakistan The Swat valley’s apple orchards are in blossom even as the snow still lies thick on the mountains. It’s been the harshest winter in memory. I came here… Read more

The borrowers

18 December 2004

Laikipia When I saw the Chief in his Land Cruiser filled with hangers-on bouncing towards me through the bush I knew he was after his Christmas fatted lamb. It is… Read more

Not my game

23 October 2004

After work the farm labourers like to head for the football pitch. They go barefoot, or in their Bata takkies, and they play rough. The first ball I gave them… Read more

Kenya’s hopes and horrors

9 October 2004
The In-Between World of Vikram Lall M. G. Vassanji

Canongate, pp.439, 14.99

Atheists were rare before the mid-18th century. The 200 years from then to the mid 20th century were their moment, especially among intellectuals. Much opinion imagines their success will continue.… Read more

Cargo cult

28 August 2004

Laikipia I watched tribal warriors invade private farms on Kenya’s Laikipia plateau this week, driving vast herds of cattle before them. The phalanxes of il moran looked magnificent in their… Read more

Lenten sacrifices

27 March 2004

Laikipia I don’t usually observe Lent, but this year it crept up on me. The penances just happened. I’m not even a good Christian. But, let me tell you, this… Read more

Distance learning

24 January 2004

Chalbi desert I am in Kenya’s Chalbi desert, where temperatures soar to 140 degrees. Out here east of Koobi Fora, the Cradle of Mankind, black volcanic rocks tumble down to… Read more

Plum pudding on the beach

13 December 2003

Laikipia My favourite Christmases are in Nairobi. This is how it goes. We gather in the suburbs, at my sister and brother-in-law’s hotel, which they close for the holiday. It… Read more