New employees at the British headquarters of Accenture, a global management consultancy, were slightly taken aback during a recent induction morning when the head of human resources encouraged them to wear rainbow-coloured lanyards declaring themselves ‘allies’ — not just at the meeting, but permanently. In addition, they were given the option of adding the word ‘ally’ in the same rainbow pattern to the footers of their company email addresses.
The other day Will Self unburdened himself on the state of fiction with crushing hauteur. ‘What’s now regarded as serious literature would, ten or 20 years ago, have been regarded as young adult fiction… in terms of literary history, it does seem a bit of a regression. If you consider that Nabokov’s Lolita was on the New York Times bestseller list for nine months, it’s a different order of literature…’
Stop right there! Will Self’s top pick was Lolita.
An Italian friend who lives in Rome texted me to ask about the current political crisis in Canada that is threatening to topple the Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. ‘I honestly can’t see what the “scandal” is,’ he said. ‘Is it all just because Justin forgot to say “please” when asking his attorney-general for a deferred prosecution agreement?’
No and yes — and that is also what makes this scandal so uniquely Canadian.
How much is Jadon Sancho worth? Fifty million? A hundred million? As the speculation mounts, the numbers keep growing. Jadon is the star player for Borussia Dortmund, one of Germany’s leading football teams. He’s already won his first England cap — and he’s still only 18.
If you know anything about football, you already know about Jadon. If you don’t know anything about football, you’ll know about him soon enough.
‘How old are you, young lady?’ A small, curious crowd starts to surround me. ‘How tall are you? What do you work as?’ The parents camping out in Shanghai’s infamous marriage market have no time for small talk. They come here every weekend, rain or shine, seeking a partner for their grown-up son or daughter. Age, wage, height, education — everyone has a wish list, and they also condense their own child into such a list.
India is not preparing for war, but picking up the newspapers in Delhi you could be forgiven for thinking otherwise. For weeks, the papers have been blowing the horns of retribution against Islamabad after a convoy of police officers was rammed by a suicide bomber in Kashmir. Since both sides acquired nuclear weapons, neither had sent a warplane to bomb the other — until last week. Friends in Europe send me anxious messages: isn’t it time to leave Delhi while I still can? The Americans I meet are all a bit jumpy.
For a few years before coming to Italy, I lived in Paris and I cannot tell you the life-enhancing difference I felt as I crossed the frontier from France into Italy in my metallic burgundy Honda Prelude.
On arrival at the Italian motorway toll that stifling summer of 1998, I discovered I had no money and that the sun had melted my bank card which I had left on the dashboard. The charming young woman on the toll-gate simply gave me a form to fill in and waved me through with a smile.