235 results for 'Anastasia '
Haiti is a young nation, which is to say that it is a nation of the young. Growing old here without mishap is something of an achievement. If history in the widest sense is no more than a form of collective memory, then there are not many still alive who remember the days of Baby Doc Duvalier, the former dictator. The son of the infamous Papa Doc, Baby Doc ruled the country from his father’s death in 1971 until he was ousted in 1986 by a military coup.
After many years in exile he returned home in 2011. Some remembered. Some even celebrated his return, seeing his rule in a positive... (more)
Barack Obama has seen fit to lecture us benighted Brits on the value of the European Union. I have only one observation: I do so wish that he would stick to his own Union and not ours. Does he not have troubles enough on his doorstep? Perhaps he might care for a few helpful tips on managing his own affairs? Would he welcome such a thing? I rather think not.
He's a bit worried, you see, by Prime Minister David Cameron’s proposed in out referendum on British membership of our less perfect Union. His administration has gone so far as to ‘warn’ (good word) our government against secession.... (more)
My grandfather, my father’s father, attended Eton College before the Second World War, leaving there for Sandhurst when he was seventeen. During his time at school he got to know M. R. James, who was provost until his death in the summer of 1936. Grandfather was among the successive waves of boys that James introduced to the tingly delights of the ghost story, a genre in which the old master excelled, writing some of the best tales in the English language. He learned to love the ghost story from James just as I was later to learn to love the ghost story from him.
Montague Rhodes James,... (more)
“I want to believe”, so says the poster on the office wall of Fox Mulder, the FBI's most eccentric - and gullible – agent. Underneath the words is a flying saucer. “I want to disbelieve”, would be better, under which should be a picture of a naked G-Person. My, my, how shocking it would all be to poor old J. Edgar: his very own Agency has turned into a bare assed joke!
The naked truth, you see, is coming out at last. An Agency that long believed itself above the law has been obliged to face some uncomfortable truths about itself and its more unsavoury practices. Sexual indiscretions... (more)
Last week, just before Valentine’s Day, North Korea carried out its latest nuclear test. In a way this was a greeting to the world, or at least to the United States. It was meant to convey one core message: all members of the Axis of Evil are equal, but some are more equal than others.
This test comes almost ten years after the invasion of Iraq in March 2003. It’s time, I think, to recall the words of Madeleine Albright, the former Secretary of State – “The message out of Iraq is that if you don’t have nuclear weapons, you get invaded. If you do have nuclear weapons, you don’t get... (more)
I wrote recently about the atrocious case of Stafford Hospital, a place where hundreds of patients are now thought to have died needlessly as a result of mismanagement, negligence and incompetence. Mismanagement, negligence and incompetence seem to have become the three wicked fairies haunting the state-funded British National Health Service. The scandal caused by their malevolent magic is now all but impossible to disguise.
The attempt has been made, though. The rot here goes high; it goes high as Sir David Nicholson, the former communist who is now Chief Executive of the National... (more)
Network is a movie made in 1976 that features Peter Finch as Howard Beale, a deranged TV news anchorman. In a sublime moment of madness Beale speaks to the nation at large, clearly striking a cord. This is the wonderful “I’m as Mad as Hell”, rant;
We know things are bad — worse than bad. They're crazy. It's like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don't go out anymore. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we are living in is getting smaller, and all we say is: 'Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials... (more)
In 1946 George Orwell published How the Poor Die, an horrific account of his experience in a French public hospital in the late 1920s. In this he drew the following conclusion;
In the public wards of hospitals you see horrors that you don't seem to meet with among people who manage to die in their own homes, as though certain diseases only attacked people at the lower income levels. But it is a fact that you would not in any English hospitals see some of the things I saw in the Hôpital X. This business of dying like animals, for instance, with nobody interested, the death not even noticed... (more)
I was horrified to learn of the dreadful death last week in Papua New Guinea of Kepari Leniata, a twenty-year-old mother, burned alive after being accused of bringing about the death of a six-year-old boy by sorcery. She was dragged from her hut by a mob, stripped naked and tortured with white hot iron bars before being incinerated on top of a pile of petrol soaked tyres. This atrocity took place the village of Paiala in the highlands to the north-west of Port Moresby, the capital.
Belief in witchcraft and black magic is widespread in Papua New Guinea, but please do not assume that... (more)
The Art of Donald McGill is one of George Orwell’s most brilliant and perceptive essays. It’s a dissertation on the naughty British seaside postcard – now I think a thing of the past -, on forms of ribald humour that most likely escape people who are not native to these islands. Towards the end he makes the following observation;
I never read the proclamations of generals before battle, the speeches of fuhrers and prime ministers, the solidarity songs of public schools and left-wing political parties, national anthems, temperance tracts, papal encyclicals and sermons against gambling... (more)