Monthly Archives: February 2011

Revolution checklist

The Arab Revolt presently convulsing various countries is following a familiar script, albeit one with local variations: it has been refined in turn by England (1640 – 1660), France (1789 – 1800), Russia (1917), Ethiopia (1974 – 1977), Iran (1979) … Continue reading

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Royal timeline

‘Long live our noble queen’, we sing. But death comes for monarchs too. The death of Elizabeth II (born 1926) will be pivotal. She is now 85 years old and the heir to the throne (born 1948) is 62. His … Continue reading

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Paulo Coelho on love

For St Valentine’s Day, a bitter-sweet meditation on love by the Brazilian writer and philosopher Paulo Coelho: “But love is always new. Regardless of whether we love once, twice, or a dozen times in our life, we always face a … Continue reading

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Diana Norman (continued)

What would it be like to experience a tiny corner of the 12th century CE in Europe?  In tribute to the great historical novelist Diana Norman, who has just died, here is the second part of a short fantasy in … Continue reading

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Diana Norman, 1933 – 2011

“The past is a foreign country”, we all know, “they do things differently there.” The mark of a great historical novelist is her or his ability to imagine that other country and bring it to life for us to such … Continue reading

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Being British in old Cairo

An Englishwoman on a voyage to India in the 1830s describes her impressions of Cairo: thanks to Project Gutenberg, here are two extracts, the first extolling the beauty of the city, the second recording her anger at the sight of … Continue reading

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Oh, those cuts!

It is a truism of British local government that residents generally detest ‘the council’ but are at the same time deeply appreciative of its services, especially libraries and parks.  Streetcleaning is another favourite.  Many seem not to link these to … Continue reading

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