Monthly Archives: June 2010

Small planet for smallest person

“Ask anyone,” he muttered, as he spat a small, brilliant blue insect whirring into the gauze. “I would advise stilts for the quagmires, and camels for the snowy hills, and any survivors, their debts I will certainly pay. There’s always a way, there’s always a way.” I smiled with that gallantly-concealed, forceful nervousness that has

Sic semper tyrannis

God, I’m glad I don’t have a telly. It’s bad enough, having to inhale all the passive smoke of the world cup: the endless newspaper and radio coverage, the special offers and linked-in events, the awful songs, the trashy, injection-moulded mascots and all that “official brewer to the national team” nonsense, not to mention the

Schengen in the rain

Drood was bent over his desk. One of those inclined, pulpit-like escritoires once found in clerks’ offices, it had come from his uncle’s actuary practice (whatever that is). He began with the words: “it was 1789 and a merchant was travelling from Königsberg to Cologne when he fell among thieves.” Drood’s intention had been to

Smelling Ararat

The Deluge: A punishment inflicted on the human race by an all-knowing God, who, through not having foreseen the wickedness of men, repented of having made them, and drowned them once for all to make them better – an act which, as we all know, was accompanied by the greatest success. – Voltaire, Dictionary of

Ginger, get the popcorn!

We are more interested in the fall of angels than in their ascent. “Schadenfreude”, that vicarious appreciation of other people’s disasters, is deep inside all of us somewhere. For while we hope that those we love will perform at their best, we have a sneaking desire to see some others, less loved or even envied,

I’m late, I’m late

He wasn’t someone I knew well. He was the grandfather of a friend, a Russian friend. A sweet man in life, he was gentle and hardworking. Humorous too, at least I think so; we had no common language to joke around in. I’d eaten fruit from his garden on a few occasions. He was a

Dry bones

I have it on good authority that the knee bone’s connected to the thigh bone. We should all bear that in mind when considering what is going wrong with our society and how to put it right. At the top of the bone-chain comes the head bone. That some are more bone-headed than others is

Water thicker than oil

BP’s head honcho in Canada is a lady with the highly inappropriate name of Anne Drinkwater. She recently told a parliamentary committee hearing, prior to green-lighting her company’s exploratory drilling in the Canadian arctic, that she had no comparative data on the differences between US and Canadian regulations, but that she certainly thought the Canadian

“Where is everybody?” (Enrico Fermi)

If someone someday presents conclusive proof that we are alone in the universe, this writer, if still alive, will be deeply sad: no E.T., no phone home, no abductions replete with all the odd prurience that goes with the idea that “they” might be fascinated enough by our mammalian reproductive system to run some tests,