Two years ago the Danish writer Helle Brix helped found the Lars Vilks Committee. The group of media figures from left and right came together to support the Swedish artist who has been under constant threat of death since drawing a picture of Mohammed in 2007.
‘We agreed that Mr Vilks should not be alone in the world,’ says Helle when we spoke earlier this week, ‘and if the establishment or the Swedish artists wouldn’t support him then we would.
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[/audioplayer]Last month, the speaker of the Russian parliament solemnly instructed his foreign affairs committee to launch a historical investigation: was West Germany’s ‘annexation’ of East Germany really legal? Should it be condemned? Ought it to be reversed? Last week, the Russian foreign minister, speaking at a security conference in Munich, hinted that he might have similar doubts.
Some of the longest job descriptions belong to rural Church of England clergy. ‘So what do you do?’ ‘I’m the Rector of Aldwincle, Clopton, Pilton, Stoke Doyle, Thorpe Achurch, Titchmarsh and Wadenhoe.’ Every one of these place names evokes an ancient Pevsner-worthy church, smelling of candlewax, damp hymn books and brass polish. Though many villages no longer have a shop or a pub, most do still have a parish church used for regular services — even if only on the first and third Sunday of the month.
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[/audioplayer]It’s the shoulders you have to watch out for. If he’s pressing them back as his hand comes out to shake yours, then beware: you’re about to meet a Space Invader.
It’s tricky, being an alpha male in polite 21st-century society.
When did the advertising industry decide that swearing sells? Look around you, and you’ll start to see rude, unfunny double entendres everywhere. The latest company to jump on the bandwagon is Toyota — currently flogging cars with the catchphrase, ‘Go Fun Yourself’. Try not to split your sides laughing.
I blame French Connection. In 1991, the once respectable clothes shop started referring to itself as fcuk.
Like many journalists, I’m a bit of a know-it-all — when information is touted as ‘new’, especially in government reports, it sometimes brings out in me the opposite of sincere curiosity so essential to my trade. Thus when my French publisher asked me to write a preface to Senator Dianne Feinstein’s report on the CIA’s torture programme, and come to Paris to promote a translated edition, I was reluctant.
Syracuse is a handsome place, steeped in a rich historical broth. At the tip sits Ortygia, an island offshoot, which has been the backdrop to many Mediterranean sagas: Hellenic, Christian, Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque — take your pick. By day, Via de Benedictis is filled with local men selling sea urchins, milky balls of ricotta and bunches of mint. At night, we went to the Piazza Duoma for aperitifs.