In Abdallah Guech Street, a few hundred metres from the main mosque in the heart of Tunis’s old quarter, lies a red-light district which has thrived since the 19th century. Here the Ottomans legalised (and regulated) prostitution as they had in much of the rest of the Muslim world. Uniquely, though, in the Arab world, the tradition in Tunisia endured: every one of the country’s historic quarters boasts bordellos — even, most remarkably, Kairouan, Islam’s fourth holiest city after Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem.
It doesn’t matter who wins the Irish elections – the country will remain an outpost of BrusselsDublin
There is something tragically irrelevant about the elections taking place this weekend in Ireland. In recent months, Ireland has felt less like a country and more like the first acquisition of the Reborn Frankish Empire, after the Central European Bank and the IMF in effect took over day-to-day management of Irish affairs.
Josef Ackermann is something of a rarity in big business these days. Speculating last month on the possibility of a woman one day joining his board, the Deutsche Bank chief executive remarked that she might make it ‘more colourful and prettier’. Despite howls of outrage from the sisterhood — or the Schwesternschaft, as they are somewhat scarily called in Germany — what was interesting about the banker’s casual sexism was how odd it sounded rather than how ordinary.
What the Electoral Reform Society doesn’t want you to knowIn ten weeks’ time, Britons will be asked to vote on arguably the dullest question ever put to a referendum: whether to adopt the Alternative Voting system in our general elections. Under AV, instead of picking one MP, voters would list their first, second and third preferences. Our elections would be made infinitely more complicated. Counting extra votes means extra bodies, computers, and so on.
Britain now takes the Oscars seriously. That’s a crying shameThere was a time when the British took a great deal of pleasure — and not a little bit of pride — in laughing at the self-adoring parade that is the Academy Awards ceremony. The Oscars were regarded as the film equivalent of the Eurovision Song Contest: a fun event that brought out the British talent for mockery. It was nothing more than a chance to check out the fashions and watch Hollywood’s A-list make fools of themselves with overlong and overwrought speeches.
Who was the dirtiest don in history? There must be many claimants for this title, especially in the 17th century, when all dons (except heads of houses) were bachelors. The diaries of Anthony à Wood bear witness. Actually my candidate for the title lived until 1940, and had a wife, too, though she was instrumental in his filth-accumulation. I know a bit about foul dons, having been up at Oxford over 60 years ago, when bathrooms were rare.