How to tether your camel and other useful tips

Here’s a treat for Christmas: a bona fide literary treasure for under a tenner. And a handsome little hardback, too, which you could certainly squeeze into a stocking. On Travel and the Journey Through Life is an anthology of one-liners and observations on travel, from the high-spirited and romantic to the moody and downright cynical. When it comes to travel writing, all roads lead one way or another to Eland, that elegant publisher and gritty survivor. All sorts of brilliant people say nice things about Eland. Colin Thubron, the doyen of travel writers, to cite just one, admires its ‘nearly extinct integrity’ and ‘eccentric passion for quality’. And this is

The Greek myths are always with us

Once upon a time there was a collection of stories that everybody loved. They involved brave heroes such as Perseus and Theseus defeating fearful monsters like Medusa and the Minotaur. Sometimes they used ingenious gadgets to achieve their goals, a bit like James Bond with his exploding pen. Sometimes they were helped by women who took a fancy to them. Some, like Icarus, failed. Others succeeded but still came to a sticky end – like Oedipus, who solved the riddle of the Sphinx but also killed his dad and married his mum. The point is that these stories were so old they came from a time before writing. There was

Homeric levels of misery: Paradise, at the Olivier Theatre, reviewed

The National Theatre has given Sophocles’s Philoctetes a makeover and a new title, Paradise. This must be ironic because the location is hell on earth. The action starts in a dirt circle sprawling with smashed military gear where a group of plump female vagrants are waking up in a clutch of filthy old tents. They’re living on a Caribbean island which also houses a prison for migrants. In a nearby cave dwells an exiled Homeric archer, Philoctetes, who survives by eating squirrels which he kills with his handmade bow. A committed anti-vegan, Philoctetes shuns the plentiful rice, garlic and mangos that grow naturally in the tropics. Enter two British soldiers