Michael Henderson remembers the passion for cricket that underpinned his friend’s genius as a playwright, and an unforgettable day at Lord’sThe public face of Harold Pinter, who died on Christmas Eve after a long illness, was rather daunting. At the Edinburgh Book Festival a few years ago he acknowledged as much when he admitted that he could sometimes be ‘a pain in the arse’. But those who knew him well, or came across him occasionally, saw a different man: intolerant of imprecision, of course, but also warm, amusing, and — this may surprise those critics who never met him — capable of self-mockery.
Paul Wood says that Israel’s ‘shock and awe’ in Gaza caught Hamas off-guard and was a ferocious demonstration of willpower. But the Islamist organisation is far from finishedA couple of months ago in Gaza, I found myself sitting across a table from a young Palestinian woman who had volunteered to become a suicide bomber. Umm Anas was 18 years old and wearing a niqab which revealed only her large brown eyes.
Douglas Murray says that he stopped being an Anglican after analysing Muslim texts and deciding that no book — of any religion — could claim infallibilityJust over a year ago I told a lie. In print. In this magazine. I was one of those asked by The Spectator last Christmas whether I believed in the virgin birth. Since it had always seemed to me that if you believed in God a ‘pick and mix’ approach to the central tenets of the faith was pointless, I said ‘yes’.
Elliot Wilson says that an energetic form of political activism — principally on the internet — is needed in India and there are encouraging signs on Facebook, MySpace and other sitesIf there is any good to come out of November’s bloody terror attacks in Bombay, it can be found not on the city’s angry streets, nor in the Lok Sabha, New Delhi’s lethargic lower house, but in a more nebulous place, dismissed by both Hillary Clinton and John McCain but embraced by US President-elect Barack Obama: the internet.