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Virtually a kangaroo court

When Slobodan Milosevic died, more than four years into his trial for war crimes, newspapers around the world said that he had cheated justice. It would have been more accurate to say that he had cheated injustice. Had he lived, the judges would have been faced with an unpleasant dilemma: either to find him not

Beautiful Victorian behemoth

It would take a heart of stone to contemplate St Pancras station and its appended Midland Grand Hotel without laughing, such is the brio, the swagger, the sheer in-your-faceness of its high Victorian Gothic. Yet it has not always been so appreciated. In the 1950s the distinguished architectural historian Sir John Summerson confided to Sir

For reasons of state

France discovered the Arab world with Napoleon’s ill-fated expedition to Egypt in 1798. If David Pryce-Jones is to be believed, this event marked the beginning of two centuries of pernicious Arabophilia and anti-Semitism, leading successive French governments to support unpleasant Middle Eastern despots and turn a blind eye to Islamic terrorism. Like most large generalisations,


Sometimes, in the night, sharing our  bedI feel cage-restrained.I cannot stretch, or scratch, or swearat moths or mosquitoes looking forthe light, or me. I cannot listen to  theWorld Service, speak out loud or  hum. And yet and yet, separated,my being yearns for you.Not for rapturous couplings,not for passion, but for oneness.It is my primordial needto

Things falling apart

Q: How to write imaginatively about the developing world? The old Naipaul-style methods of tragicomic ironising seem to be on the way out. Magic realism, where the butterfly clouds float reliably over the parched savannah, is not what it was. On the other hand, allegory-cum-fable — a tradition that extends at least as far back

When the judges got it right

In 1907 the Nobel Prize for Literature was for the first time awarded to an English-language writer: Kipling. It wasn’t even then a choice that went down well with those whose opinions counted. ‘The denizens of literary London,’ David Gilmour remarked in The Last Recessional, ‘were aghast that the prize should have gone to Kipling