Lloyd Evans finds that Bernard-Henri Lévy is not the ageing French dandy of caricature but a serious intellectual with views on everything from Barack Obama to the Muslim veilOh goody. He’s late. Every journalist wants the interviewee to miss the appointment, if possible by several hours. It gives us the advantage and obliges our subject to apologise or face being lacerated in print for the transgression.
Stephen Schwartz and Irfan Al-Alawi say that LET — the Army of the Righteous — is a worldwide Islamist organisation which is well-established in Britain. The Mumbai atrocities are further proof that the march of Islamic extremism is the central fact of our timeThe usual suspects are declaring that the ‘cause’ of the Mumbai bombings was Kashmir or some other local grievance. But what happened in Mumbai was no more a local event than the 7 July 2005 attacks in London or the assault in Madrid on 11 March 2004.
Mary Wakefield talks to a courageous woman who blew the whistle on the deep systemic failures in the foster care service — and whose only reward was to be hounded and vilifiedI spotted Sarah immediately, though I’d never seen her before and she was tucked in among the commuter crowds ebbing and flowing through Marylebone station. She walked differently from the rest, less preoccupied, more determined, and she carried, as she had said she would, a big black folder under her arm.
Great news — grooming is now a criminal offence. I’ve always had problems with it, frankly. When about to go out somewhere special for the evening my personal grooming consists of hacking at my face with the blunt Bic razor my wife keeps by the side of the bath for when the waxing business hasn’t quite done the trick, and three strategic squirts of Lynx ‘Africa’ deodorant (a procedure known colloquially as a ‘Glasgow Shower’).
A Sondheim premiere in New York! Besotted fans of one of the four greatest-ever Broadway composer-lyricists (the others being Irving Berlin, Frank Loesser and Cole Porter, all, regrettably, dead) were resigned never to seeing another. I feared that we were going to have to make do, perpetually, with repeated, indeed incessant, revivals of Sweeney Todd, and those anthologies, such as Side by Side by Sondheim and Putting It Together, which started out as such fun but became funerary lamentations for the lack of something novel, exciting and, most of all, unknown.
Aidan Hartley says that Somali piracy is very well-organised and efficient and is opposed publicly only by militant Muslims — who may yet seize power in MogadishuThe ceaseless piracy off Somalia’s shores — another, Singaporean tanker was hijacked last week — is giving rise to a modern, real-life version of the novel Scoop. Evelyn Waugh’s book is set in Africa’s troubled state of Ishmaelia, where one foreign correspondent breaks a big story from a place called Laku.