If the test of the Arab Spring was its treatment of minorities, it has failed. Hopes that the region was poised to make the transition to liberal democracy have proved to be premature, trampled under the boots of the ethno-religious cleansers. The old-style corrupt despots have metastasised into even older-style Islamist xenophobes. The Arab world, already judenrein, now seems determined to slough off its Christian minority.
The Arabs once had a saying about the British: ‘Better to be their enemy, for that way they will try to buy you; for if you are their friend, they will most certainly sell you.’ For Iraq’s Christians it has proved to be sage advice.It is a lesson learned by a 25-year-old engineering student Wissam Shamouy, an Assyrian Orthodox Christian from Bakhdida in Nineveh province, who fled after jihadis gave him a second warning: leave or die.
The PM’s problem is not poshness, but impolitenessPremierships do not end in failure, as Enoch Powell once asserted, but in tragedy. They start with a beaming figure disappearing behind the door of No. 10 — even Edward Heath, immortalised now as the Incredible Sulk, entered with a radiant grin. And they end with a haunted shadow of a politician creeping out to a waiting car, his every character flaw having been chiselled to destruction.
Some people swoon over film stars. I swoon over organists. Good organists, that is, not bad organists. Bad organists I refer to as ‘dominant males’, because the only two chords they play are the tonic and the dominant. Good organists are upholders of some of the highest musical expertise in the land. When you hear the stops being pulled out for the voluntary on Easter Sunday (will it be Bach? Will it be Widor?), spot the organist, and see if you experience a frisson.
I first heard the name ‘Dan Jarvis’ on a dance floor at a wedding in Bath. ‘Move like Jagger’ was thumping through the speakers, and most people had given up trying to chat, but I’d been collared by a cavalry officer who was damned if he was going to let disco get in the way of his politics. ‘Not enough soldiers in the Commons,’ he yelled at me, ‘and the ones who are there are a bit flawed. There is one chap though,’ he paused for effect: ‘Jarvis, he’s called Dan Jarvis.
When my wife said she thought we should educate our three children at comprehensive schools, it was with a degree of trepidation that I went along with her. I was thankful to save the several hundred thousand pounds it would probably have cost to send them to fee-paying schools, money which I at least showed scant sign of being able to earn. But I wondered whether the education would be good enough.
I still don’t know whether I’ve been hadI have been wondering what to do about Chris…. Well, I call him Chris, but the truth is that I’ve only met him once and I’d hardly say our brief acquaintance qualifies as friendship. How does one get oneself into these quandaries?Four weeks ago, I was walking along Buckingham Palace Road, towards the coach station, when I noticed Chris. He was a couple of steps ahead of me, talking on the telephone, and in a state of agitation.
Here we go again. Like a macabre version of Groundhog Day, mass murderer Jeremy Bamber is making yet another bid for freedom. This nasty legal saga has been dragging on for almost 26 years, ever since Bamber was first found guilty of the savage massacre at his family’s farmhouse in rural Essex. By a majority verdict, the jury at Chelmsford Crown Court decided that in the early hours of 7 August 1985, Bamber had shot dead his adoptive parents, Nevill and June, his sister Sheila Caffel, and her young twin sons, Daniel and Nicholas.