Monday, 14 August 2017

Death in Charlottesville

A killing took place in Charlottesville and a man has been charged with murder. This case is sub judice. A lot of scuffles and violent incidents took place for which left wing protesters may be to blame. Again sub judice. Yet the bias against President Trump,  from the BBC and Jon Sopel etc., because he condemned extremism and violence without singling out the far right, beggars belief. 

I have absolutely no time whatsoever for Sir Oswald Mosley, but, according to Lord Skidelsky's biography, most of the violence in the Battle of Cable St was committed by communists, not fascists. I remember saying that to a man at my college, who gave me a look of absolute hatred.

The Scilly Isles are heaven and it is always 1952

The Scilly Isles, even more than the rest of Cornwall, is an Enid Blyton book come to life. The couple I chatted to on the boat had bought the whole Famous Five series for their daughter. (Aren't there at least thirty books?) They told me St Michael's Mount is the original of Smugglers' Island. Another young father was reliving his childhood holidays with his children.

It's 1952 England here with Mr Churchill back and the socialists out. It feels virginal. I am tucking once more into a Cornish cream tea, i.e. scones, jam and cream, though I forbore to ask for lashings of ginger pop.

The Star Castle Hotel where I am staying is wonderful. A Jacobean castle and pure Enid Blyton.

There are a very small number of immigrants, who are white and East European. In a Blyton story foreign accents usually signalled smugglers or gunrunners, but times have changed and now they mean agreeable waitresses.

As I was going to St Ives

I went to St Ives for the Tate Gallery and the Hepworth sculpture garden. The first had a wonderful restaurant, wonderful views of the sea and two uninteresting exhibitions. The Hepworths were forgettable too. But the town itself is a wonderful work of art and nature.

I used to like abstract sculpture or persuaded myself I did (Henry Moore and others), but the mediaeval church tower is so much more beautiful than anything by Dame Barbara Hepworth. 

I wonder what the Queen thinks of the people she knights. 

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St. Ives is heaven.

I once more failed to resist a scone, cream and jam.

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Monday, 31 July 2017

The House of the People, Bucharest

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This wonderful picture of the House of the People, Bucharest, is by Octavian Draga.

The House of the People in Bucharest is the largest building in Europe and the second biggest building in the world (after the Pentagon) measured by floor space. It was built by Ceausescu but he never addressed the crowds from the balcony. Only two men have done that: Ion Iliescu, who had him shot, and Michael Jackson. 

Five marvellous quotations

Stefan Molyneux

Wow, the movie 'Dunkirk' is a powerful depiction of the horrible suffering British men had to go through to keep foreigners out of England.

Growing older means being exiled

As one grows older all of us live in a foreign country. Living in a real foreign country makes that much easier. 

We all feel as if we don't belong where we live because this is the human condition, but who wants to belong anyway?

Though in fact, at some level, we all want to belong. That is also the human condition. Except for the mad. They don't care.

Viktor Orban: "Over the next few decades will Europe remain the continent of the Europeans?"

"In Central Europe we believed that Europe was our future; today we feel that we are the future of Europe...
"However much of a taboo one is breaking by saying it, there is no cultural identity in a population without a stable ethnic composition. The alteration of a country’s ethnic makeup amounts to an alteration of its cultural identity. A
strong country can never afford to do something like that – unless some global catastrophe forces it to do so...."

Sunday, 30 July 2017

"Religion in Romania means something completely different from what it means in Catholic or Protestant countries"

"Religion in Romania means something completely different from what it means in Catholic or Protestant countries" (Eugene Ionesco).

"In the Orthodox country, the state, the church, and the nation form a collective entity that has a will superior to the individual. This sense of collectivity, reinforced by Orthodoxy, was the main impulse of the Iron Guard. The Orthodox Christian, unlike the Catholic or Protestant, does not

Belloc quotations

“The Barbarian hopes — and that is the mark of him, that he can have his cake and eat it too. He will consume what civilization has slowly produced after generations of selection and effort, but he will not be at pains to replace such goods, nor indeed has he a comprehension of the virtue that has brought them into being. Discipline seems to him irrational, on which account he is ever marvelling that civilization, should have offended him with priests and soldiers.... In a word, the Barbarian is discoverable everywhere in this, that he cannot make: that he can befog and destroy but that he cannot sustain; and of every Barbarian in the decline or peril of every civilization exactly that has been true.

We sit by and watch the barbarian. We tolerate him in the long stretches of peace, we are not afraid. We are tickled by his irreverence; his comic inversion of our old certitudes and our fixed creed refreshes us; we laugh. But as we laugh we are watched by large and awful faces from beyond, and on these faces there are no smiles.”

Six quotations

Write as the wind blows and command all words like an army!


We think that we are born today tabula rasa without a history, but man has always lived in the myth. To think that man is born without a history within himself — that is a disease. It is absolutely abnormal, because man is not bom every day. He is born into a specific historical setting with specific historical qualities, and therefore, he is only complete when he has a relation to these things. If you are growing up with no connection

Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese

In every alliance there is a horse and there is a rider.

Bismarck, quoted in Nagy Talavera, The Green Shirts and the Others

Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.

G.K. Chesterton

Friday, 28 July 2017

Desert islands

G.K. Chesterton was asked what one book he'd choose to have with him if stranded on a desert island. He chose "Thomas's Guide to Practical Shipbuilding." 

Is Trebizond the most beautiful place name of all?

Talking about places that should be visited simply for the beauty of their names, Trebizond now comes to mind. I remember using the word to an Englishman in Constantinople who said it sounded better in my mouth than Trabzon. We had only an hour earlier but he had me down as a Victorian.

That evening is memorable for a last look inside one of my favourite hotels, the Pera

Monday, 24 July 2017


'He who cannot obey himself will be commanded. Such is the nature of living things.' Nietzsche

'Point me out the happy man and I will point you out either egotism, selfishness, evil - or else an absolute ignorance.' Graham Greene

[Are selfish people happy? I'd have thought not. Are evil people happy? They usually don't seem happy or unhappy. I think psychopaths have very shallow emotions. They can be gleeful and obtain physical satisfaction.]

Sunday, 23 July 2017

"40,000 civilians died in Mosul"

40,000 civilians died in Mosul, either bombed or killed in house to house fighting, according to a Kurdish commander quoted by Patrick Cockburn. Note the difference between press accounts of the fall of Mosul and East Aleppo.

There’s been no emergency debate in the House of Commons and the Eiffel Tower hasn’t

Dog days in Bucharest

90º Fahrenheit and an extreme weather warning. The town is empty and the very houses seem asleep.

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The power of names

His Eye might there command wherever stood
City of old or modern Fame, the Seat
Of mightiest Empire, from the destind Walls
Of Cambalu, seat of Cathaian Can
And Samarchand by Oxus, Temir's Throne,
To Paquin of Sinæan Kings, and thence
To Agra and Lahor of great Mogul
Down to the golden Chersonese...
And so on and on and on. Paradise Lost, Book 10
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan a stately pleasure dome decree. Coleridge
Some places should be visited because of the beauty of their names. So says Marzena Pogorzaly, who herself has a very beautiful name, and gave as an example Odessa.

Children and travellers see the world

"We look at the world once, in childhood. The rest is memory."
Louise Glück

THIS is the reason why we like to go abroad on holiday or, if we are lucky, to live abroad: to have a veil lifted and to recapture the child's divine vision.

"We travel abroad to explore our unconscious mind."
Mircea Eliade

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Trump ends covert CIA program to arm Syrian rebels

President Trump has decided to end the CIA's covert program to arm and train moderate Syrian rebels battling the Syrian government.

About time. There was never any American interest in overthrowing the cruel Assad regime and replacing it with what?

"Embrace the discomfort of transformation"

In a depressing article today entitled 'Diversity and Disintegration', the always interesting Mark Steyn makes a good point.
In a developed world where the low-skilled service jobs are automating, there is no economic rationale for mass immigration. That leaves only the cultural consequences.

Austria Hungary, an EU before the EU

'It is sometimes said that the Austrian Empire was a "natural unit;" this catch phrase only means that it was large and had existed for a long time. Many economic ties had grown up with the centuries; these were certainly not "natural." There was no geographic unity. ...... As for the Bukovyna, it was cut off from everywhere, a meaningless fragment of territory for which there could be no rational explanation.' (A.J.P. Taylor)
I love those lethargic places cut off from time, space and economics by borders. The Northern Bucovina, separated from its southern hinterland, which was in Austria and is now in Romania. The noble former Ottoman capital Adrianople (Edirne), a couple of miles from the very slow Greek and Bulgarian border crossings. The whole of Eastern Europe was such a place, until 1989. 

Even Transnistria, cut off from Moldova, Ukraine, Russia and its real home the USSR, has a boring charm. 

Catholic priest prosecuted for saying homosexuality is a sin

Hate speech laws are a way of silencing opinion. As measures are taken to prevent Islamists using the net for their purposes, this will become more and more the case.

In Barcelona a priest has been unsuccessfully prosecuted for saying 
"Homosexuality is a sin against nature". He was prosecuted for enunciating Catholic doctrine, in (formerly?) Catholic Spain.

La Muse Endormie sold for $57 million

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The item which Christie's sold for the highest price in the first half of this year was this wonderful bronze cast, La Muse Endormie (1913) by Constantin Brâncuși. The Romanian was perhaps the greatest sculptor of the last century. It was sold in New York for $57.4m (£44.1m), a record for Brâncuși.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017


We never love anyone. Not really. We only love our idea of another person. It is some conception of our own that we love. We love ourselves, in fact.
William Boyd

Were EU laws to blame for the Grenfell fire?

The Grenfell tower block, which caught fire in a poor enclave in the richest borough in London, cost no-one knows how many lives. It has become a symbol of what is wrong with England, as terrible tragedies do. They become mythology.

The same thing happened with the murder of Jamie Bulger, a 2 year-old boy who was abducted, tortured and murdered by two ten-year-old boys in 1993. His murder had nothing to do with John Major, but seemed to symbolise the breakdown of society after fourteen years of Toryism and free market economics. I thought so too at the time.

What does Grenfell show us? Like the Rorschach test, in which subjects' perceptions of inkblots are recorded, it shows us what we want to see. The fire is reported to have been caused by a fridge freezer catching fire in the flat of an Ethiopian, who packed his baggage before leaving. This suggests to some that faulty fridge freezers are dangerous. Undoubtedly they are right. Other people in social media place the blame on Ethiopians.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Calibri may leave Pakistan sans Sharif

I had been following, out of the corner of my eye, the story of Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. His government might fall because his daughter Maryam submitted documents to the Supreme Court dated before January 31, 2007 and typed in Calibri, a font which only became available on that date. This is interesting, but more memorably it is the occasion for possibly the best headline I ever saw.


‘I started as a rebel against rebellion.’ Sir Roger Scruton

'Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darknesses of other people.' Carl Gustav Jung

'To fall into a habit is to begin to cease to be.' Miguel de Unamuno

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Quotations about childhood

We look at the world once, in childhood. The rest is memory. 

Louise Glück

For writers it is always said that the first twenty years contain the whole of experience - the rest is observation - but I think this is equally true of us all. 

Graham Greene