Frank Lawton

The many Jesus-like figures of the ancient world

What people tend to forget about Jesus Christ is that he killed children. As a five-year-old, Jesus was toddling through a village when a small boy ran past, knocking his shoulder. Taking it like any five-year-old would, Jesus shouted after him ‘you shall not go further on your way’, at which point the boy fell

Religion provides the rhythm

Music is an art of time: songs play to a rhythm, giving shape to the seconds as they pass, charging the present with a pulse we can feel. But as music takes us forward through time it also takes us back – to the moment of its composition or recording; to a particularly resonant time

Funny peculiar

My ex-dentist resembled a potato wearing a Patek Phillipe. In those precious moments between the golf course and the cruise ship he would take the time to remind patients what good value our treatments were. Under the spotlights we could do little but stare, gurn and dribble, which he took, I presume, as a sign

The art of art restoration    

When I first saw ‘The Triumph of Death’ (1562-63), by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, the painting throbbed: this land was sick, smothered in smoke; the fires on the horizon had been burning for ever, turning earth into dirt, air into haze. All was dull, lethargic, ill. When I saw the painting again some years later,

Magic and medicine: The Barefoot Doctor, by Can Xue, reviewed

It must be exhausting to live as a barefoot doctor in a Chinese village if Can Xue’s latest novel is anything to go by. Not because of your work as curer-in-chief, but because all your patients are either nauseatingly happy or prone to near-constant weeping. Barefoot doctors emerged in the 1930s, but really hit their

Piloting a Boeing Dreamliner can be less than dreamy

Mark Vanhoenacker dreams of my nightmares. Ever since he was a young boy, he fantasised about piloting airplanes. Ever since I was a young boy, well, let’s just say I’ve preferred to take the train. Of course I know that, statistically, flying is safe; but that knowledge doesn’t stop the unnerving sense that at some

Seek, and ye shall find

The bearded figure clad in white robes and wandering barefoot through the streets of Jerusalem is not, in fact, the messiah. But neither is he a very naughty boy.  Rather, he is a middle-aged man from Texas in need of a shower who, like the German across the street claiming to be Saint Paul, is