Yes, our man (Yushchenko) and our system (democracy) won in Ukraine, and once again good triumphed over bad. Yet this presentation, so characteristic of the Western media, misses the point about what the struggle is really about.
If the issue was fair elections, there would have been an equal furore about the grossly rigged elections by which Ilham Aliyev assumed the presidency of Azerbaijan in 2003 from his father, a ruthless KGB hardman in the former Soviet state.
Pope John Paul II’s recovery from his tracheotomy in the Gemelli Hospital in Rome will have delighted his well-wishers, but it may have come as a disappointment to the Pope himself. He would like to die in harness and, realising that he can no longer pull the barque of the Church with the same vigour as before, hopes that God will call him sooner rather than later to enjoy an eternal repose. Journalists, too, are impatient to start the circus that they have prepared for so long, and some Curial cardinals seem to think that it is time for a change: no Cardinal Secretary of State since the 13th century has suggested the possibility of a Papal resignation as did Cardinal Solano.
Sam Leith has been taking lessons in taxidermy, and he hasn’t had so much fun in ages‘Now I’m going to show you what a scalpel handle is for,’ says Mike Gadd. I pick up the one nearest me, and start trying to affix the blade that I’ve so far been using pinched between finger and thumb. ‘Don’t be silly,’ says Mike. ‘It’s not for holding a scalpel blade.’ And with that, he reverses the scalpel handle in his own hand and digs its blunt, spatulate back end into the orbit of the eye in the skinned bird skull he’s holding.
There is a new kind of class distinction in the dining car from King’s Cross to York. Most of us — hoi polloi, relatively speaking — observe the convention that once the fishcake starters are served, it is polite to talk to the strangers with whom we happen to be sharing a table; and there is usually someone willing to start the ball rolling by pointing to a news item in the London Evening Standard and saying: ‘Honestly, this bloody government, the money they waste.