In the 14th century, Timur the Lame led a nomad army against the whole settled world. He plundered from the Ganges to the Dardanelles, but the heartland of his empire lay between two great rivers north of Afghanistan, the Amu Dar'ya and Syr Dar'ya. Today both rivers sink into the sands of what is now the Republic of Uzbekistan. Many ancient cities lie beneath those sands, among them the city of Benaket.
Trying to arrest tyrants like Robert Mugabe is a tiring, stressful business. Even I need a break. So I headed for Palm Springs, California, to indulge my passion for mountain hiking.
Palm Springs is no ordinary desert resort. A mere half a mile from the main street, mountains rise steeply to nearly 11,000 feet. During winter, while the town basks in 28?C sunshine, the peaks are sub-zero and snow-capped.
A PAIR of lionesses were ambling through the grass; three cubs were scampering around them. A delightful spectacle, but this was the African bush, not Disneyland. The lionesses were not going for a stroll. It was many hours since their last meal, so they were out to kill and feed.
As for the cubs, they were playing regardless of their doom. I said to our guide that they had presumably survived the worst menaces that overshadow leonine infancy, but was told that this was not the case.
The last David Hockney show at Annely Juda Fine Art was in the summer of 1997. It was a large show of oils on canvas with the alliterative and rhyming title Flowers, Faces and Spaces. In one prominent, large painting called 'Sunflowers' no fewer than five different blue, purple or green vases containing these fiery yellow blooms, previously thought to have been patented by Vincent van Gogh, were arranged against a bright-green background on a plain, bright-red tablecloth.
When Emmy Myerson was born in June 1991, everyone celebrated. Those 'weird, regular kicks', which began when her mother was seven months pregnant, had been brushed off as 'perfectly normal' by the doctors. Even if they had been investigated, there probably wasn't much anyone could have done for the Myerson family.
When Emmy was three months old, she had her first fit. The fits continued, with increasing severity.
Would you like 'a framed 16 x 20 inch nude portrait' of yourself? The picture would be 'in black and white or tinted blue' and would be taken 'in the privacy of your own home (with a chaperone in attendance)' by a photographer who would bring a 'portable studio' with him. One of his nude portraits would make, according to the advertisement he placed in my local north London newspaper, 'a gift that is really special and personal'.
Several hundred years ago, the British brought mass death to foreign lands. They crossed the Atlantic, sneezed on the native Americans and watched them die of the common cold. Now the tables have turned. We live in fear of foreigners bringing death to our own land. Tony Blair said on Tuesday that it was 'inevitable' that al-Qa'eda would try to launch a terrorist attack on the United Kingdom; but immigrant terrorists are by no means the most potent threat to British lives.