Nothing rivals a traditional Chinese banquet for opulence

In February 1985 I had the good fortune to be a guest in Hong Kong at the Mandarin hotel’s 21st birthday celebration, a lavish three-day reconstruction of the sort of imperial banquet given during the Qing dynasty by the Kangxi emperor (1654-1722) and his grandson the Qianlong emperor (1711-1799). Kangxi started the custom of banqueting during his tours of southern China – he made six between 1684 and 1707. These provincial feasts were relatively informal affairs, often held in a tent, quite different to the stifling protocol of the imperial court at Beijing, and combined some aspects of the ruling Manchu ‘Man banquet’ with the native Han Chinese ‘Han banquet.’

The rotten legacy of communism in Albania

Our heavily laden taxi turned off the main highway from Tirana and started to negotiate the rough, one-track road. The road wound its way around the edges of the mountains until we reached the ruins of Spaç prison, once a slave labour camp in the communist era of Albania. Two three-storey buildings housed the large cells where 54 men at a time had lived and slept. They were required to work gruelling shifts, filling metal wagons with copper ore and pushing the along uneven rails, some of which were under water. If they failed to fulfil their quota, they would have to do a second shift. And if they failed

The increasingly irritating language of ‘love’

It is 17 years since we began to hear McDonald’s: ‘I’m lovin’ it.’ This was always annoying, but most of us could only object by asserting that one simply could not say: ‘I’m lovin’ it.’ It should be: ‘I love it.’ Yet I doubt we’d be more convincing by saying (truly enough) that love is a stative verb which cannot be conjugated in the continuous aspect. In that it resembles know, fear, own or hear. Anyway, apart from the great McDonald’s annoyance, I have become increasingly irritated by the widespread use of love followed by a clause introduced by that. An example in the Sun was someone enthusing about a