Sparing the rod

I recently watched a harrowing interview with a Swedish couple who had lost all of their children. No, there hadn’t been a fire or anything. Social services simply turned up at the door one evening with a couple of police officers, grabbed the kids (who were kicking and screaming blue murder and trying their best


Thoroughly modern millennia

I’ve often wondered when we first began to see artefacts and even individuals as being either outdated or modern. Did the ancient Greeks think of themselves as modern? Did the Romans consider themselves cutting-edge? Did the Carthaginians, the Babylonians and the Assyrians? And what of the Medes and the Hittites, were they knowingly up to


State of ships / ships of state

I’ll be tying two disparate things together again today, as is my wont, and trying to make it look more like good reasoning than a clever parlour trick. The first is the state of Hungary in which something is distinctly rotten and the second is the coast of Italy, recently decorated with one of the


Killing them less than softly …

An American author, Danny Wind, in a clear stylistic reference to Jonathan Swift’s “Modest Proposal”, but without the degrees of irony typical of that far greater satire, recently wrote a book entitled “Let’s kill all the Belgians: a child’s guide to genocide”. It would seem that the Belgians have only been pretending to weakness and


And there’s another country…

Is there anything so spectacular, lovely, exciting and utterly unnecessary as a firework display? On a scale of 1 to 100, on which first love is 1 and filling out income-tax forms is 100, it would probably rank in most people’s top 10 if they were scrupulously honest. The Chinese, we are told, invented fireworks


Oh come, all ye hateful

My Cousin Fiona’s eldest, Beth, has a daughter named Erin who started primary school in September. It being the end of the autumn term, and despite its multi-ethnic makeup, Christmas fills the air, the corridors and just about everywhere else. Erin’s school may be cosmopolitan, but it’s quite traditional enough to want to provide its


The mysterious Edwin Drood has gone west

Our dear Edwin is once again on his travels, visiting one of civilization’s more remote edges, which, apparently, the internet has not yet reached. His housekeeper Madame Harker has assured the editor that he will be sending in his next column very soon, and kindly requested that we not telephone her at this particular time


No Christmas in Euroland

So, it’s semi-official; Manchester is a city, London is just a collection of villages. Why do I say that? Well, apart from its obvious truth, there is now proof provided by none other than a statistical survey of the movements of those arrested during the 2010 riots (see Drood, August 9th 2010: “London’s burning!”). Whereas


Capitalism redux

Despite all the folk tales, in which the rich and powerful are cuckolded by young paupers, thieves, stable-lads etc., money is still the most obvious aphrodisiac. But there’s a modern twist. In this post-sexual, one might almost say post-coital age, the aphrodisiac is its own fulfilment. Lucre no longer serves merely as the means for


The oddness of God

“How odd of God / to choose the Jews”, wrote the left-leaning but right-writing journalist “Trilby” in the thirties. This little piece of doggerel would spawn a series of ripostes from various sources (“Not odd of God / Goyim annoy ‘im”; “Not really odd / the Jews chose God”; or this, possibly from Ogden Nash: