Recently I found myself idling away an afternoon in Angelina Jolie’s Winnebago. Angelina and I were discussing books. More specifically, she was talking me through her taste in erotic fiction, which spans the centuries from the Marquis de Sade to ‘more modern stuff’.
‘Sometimes,’ she remarked, ‘you find a passage that works for you and you can go back to it over and over.’ Crikey!
Glancing around her rather anonymous trailer, parked inside a vast hangar about 40 miles east of Los Angeles, I was disappointed to see no evidence to support her claim to an interest in mucky literature.
If you listen carefully, you can hear the drums of revolution beating once more in Washington. The neoconservatives have found another regime that needs changing, another enemy of ‘freedom’, and they are setting about putting matters right in their usual way. This time the target is Belarus, a small country in between Poland, Ukraine and Russia with a population of 10 million. Since 1996 Belarus has been run as a communist dictatorship by President Aleksander Lukashenko.
A peculiar arrangement prevailed in 8th-century France, during the final decades of the Merovingian dynasty. The power of the kings, once savage and formidable, had subsided and then collapsed. They continued to enjoy the title of monarch, but the real power was exercised by officers of the royal household, the so-called ‘mayors of the palace’. The mayors ruled, while the Merovingians, who were regarded with contempt, occupied a purely formal and instrumental role.