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Friday, October 20, 2017

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I’ve been riding for most of my life now, taking my first lesson when I was six years old. I love it all; I love everything associated with horses. I’ve taken part in county show-jumping events, though fewer and fewer recently because of other pressures on my time, and my favourite form of relaxation is a nice long hack, something I do most Sundays. However, the thing that gives me most excitement or, rather, used to give me most excitement is fox-hunting. I will explain why I use the past tense in a moment or two.

I went on my first hunt in Surrey with my mother and father on Boxing... Read More

I saw lots of political graffiti in Egypt. I can’t read Arabic but I know it was political because it was often accompanied by an illustration or even some English text. In Aswan one wall had a depiction of Mina Daniel, a Coptic Christian killed by the army in October. It was close to one of Che Guevara, a figure with whom he identified, something I found out later.

There was something else, something that puzzled me, an image of a woman who appeared to be posing naked; she was certainly wearing stockings or holdups and her shoulders were bare, but the central part of her body was covered... Read More

“Yes, I’m fine. No, I haven’t seen any trouble and I’m not in any danger.” It all got a bit repetitive after a while, these messages of comfort and reassurance that I had to send home to family and friends. For, you see, I was in Egypt in the middle of an uprising.

Actually I left Cairo – a horribly congested place – a few days before the trouble started in Tahrir Square, flying south to Aswan. I wasn’t in Egypt for politics; I was there for history, or history of an ancient kind. Still, I could not avoid politics altogether, keeping an eye on reports from the BBC and CNN, talking to... Read More

It was Bonfire Night in England on Saturday, an event celebrated every year on 5 November. It’s a night of fires and fireworks, of bangers and bangers! Now, least those who are not English misunderstand me here, a banger is just a type of firework and a banger is a sausage, really quite delicious when cooked over a fire in the open air.

So, yes, November 5 is our firework night, just as July 4 is firework night in the States. But whereas the one celebrates rebellion the other celebrates loyalty, loyalty to the crown. It celebrates the frustration of the most significant terrorist... Read More

Now we have just past Halloween – and, yes, I did have a marvellous time – you might like to know that the police force here in London has been issued with thoughtful and sensitive advice on dealing with the great sisterhood of witches.

Indeed, they have. Officers of the Metropolitan Police have been issued with a 300-hundred page guide (not exclusively about witches!), containing all sorts of helpful tips on dos, don’ts and correct procedures.

To begin with officers are advised against touching a witch’s Book of Shadows. Yes, we all have one, a personal, hand-written account... Read More

You are thinking of coming to London, are you? I’m sure that there are a number of highlights on your itinerary: Buck House, Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus and Westminster Abbey, all there among the more compelling draws. And then there is Saint Paul’s Cathedral, Sir Christopher Wren’s seventeenth century Baroque masterpiece, a symbol of the new London that emerged from the Great Fire of 1666.

Hold on; you can't go there. Yes, I’m sorry to have to tell you that you are going to have to score this off the list because it’s closed, for the first time since London was under attack... Read More

I was amused to see that Private Eye, Britain’s leading satirical magazine, Britain’s only satirical magazine, is now fifty years old, an event celebrated at a bash recently in London’s Guildhall. Once the most irreverent publication on the newsstands it’s become – The horror! The horror! – a national institution, something of a kiss of death for a publication that is noted for it’s brilliant lampoons of all sorts of people, from pompous politicians to talentless celebrities.

I’ve been reading it on and off for years. It was a regular source of amusement when I was at school, the most... Read More

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