A kind of political correctness dictates that one should not be too hard on Bob Marley, who died of cancer in 1981 aged 36. His loping, mid-tempo reggae sounds slightly vapid to my ears, but for many non-Jamaicans, Bob Marley is reggae; he remains an international Rasta celebrity, honoured with a waxwork at Madame Tussaud’s as well as a Jamaican Order of Merit (the third-highest honour in the Jamaican honours system).
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[/audioplayer]The arrogance and intransigence of some of the technology companies in the fight against terrorism has become extraordinary. We learned this week that one of Fusilier Lee Rigby’s murderers, Michael Adebowale, had Facebook accounts closed.
In his more hyperactive moods Nicolas Sarkozy, former president of France, has been known to compare himself to Charles de Gaulle. Following defeat in the 2012 presidential elections ‘Sarko’ made a dignified exit from the national stage, stating that in future his personal commitment to the well-being of France would be in some loftier sphere. De Gaulle did the same thing in 1946; he retired to his country estate for 12 years of reflection and study, before being summoned back at a time of national crisis to found the Fifth Republic.
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[/audioplayer]Imagine there was one newspaper that landed all the scoops. Literally all of them. Big news, silly news, the lot. When those girlfriendless, finger-wagging freaks in Syria and Iraq opted to behead another aid worker, it would be reported here first.
Nearly 20 years ago, during one of the many impasses on the road to ‘peace’ in Northern Ireland, Gerry Adams reminded his opponents that the republican movement would set the terms of any agreement. The IRA reserved a power of veto. ‘They haven’t gone away, you know,’ he said.
Scotland is not Ulster, of course, but the Scottish nationalists haven’t gone away either. Anyone who thinks the referendum settled this country’s constitutional future hasn’t been paying attention.
Grandpa turns purple in the sun. He says it is because we are Filipino, but my skin never colours that way. I watch him mystified as he calls to the pigeons. His whistles are strong and long and loud. They are all of his breaths pushed out, part Kools, part Budweiser, part Mentholyptus Halls. The wind scoops them up and makes them hers, using their smoky song to amplify her sound. Pigeons come flying home and Grandpa Melvin smiles.
Just a decade or so ago, most public‑school-educated parents felt obliged to give their children the same start in life they themselves were given — selling off heirlooms to send their Jacks and Henriettas off to Eton, Stowe, Cheltenham Ladies or St Paul’s. These days the price is just too high, says Andrew Halls, head of King’s College School in Wimbledon, and he’s been honest enough to name the cause: the hordes of prospective parents from other countries, oligarchs and oil men, all jostling for places for their progeny.
It’s hard, being a technophobe today. The condition is defined as ‘a fear, dislike or avoidance of new technology’, which in slow-moving times — involving a popular shift from the fountain pen to the rollerball, say — should be manageable, but electronic change is coming so fast now that one is rarely without an encroaching sense of panic.
We technophobes are often compelled to use technology, of course, and we can certainly sniff the magic of its portal into a world of limitless information.
When a man is tired of London, he just needs to relocate to Bristol — or so the stream of westbound émigrés would suggest. Each year, hundreds up sticks and flee the capital in search of its laid-back lifestyle.
Bristol prides itself on being the chilled-out alternative to the big smoke — a bit like Brighton, but further west and therefore cooler. Here they swap the ruthless capitalism of their blowhard cousins in London for giant water slides, balloon festivals and radical street art.
We’ve all been there, I’m sure. You work your pan off to get everything done in time. You count down the days until you can break out of the madhouse of pre-Christmas London. Then you’re brought down by the dreaded lurgy.
I was all for cancelling our travel plans and spending Christmas under the duvet. But the Swedish Engineer was having none of it: she’d been promised Christmas in her homeland and it was a promise I was going to keep, even if I had to be med-evaced there.