The Tragedy in Paris

My daughter was flying back to Paris from a fencing competition in China when last week’s awful events took place. She is all right, and I get to see her this coming week when Kathy and I join her and her brothers for a family holiday in London. We have other friends who live in Paris, but they are safe, if deeply shocked. Christopher Dickey, who has been Newsweek and The Daily Beast’s Paris correspondent for years, was to have […]

By |November 16th, 2015|0 Comments

Penny Wise

Enthusiasts of The West Wing may recall ‘War Games’ (Series 3, Episode 6), in which Sam Seborn, played by Rob Lowe, wonders whether to do away with the American penny. The previous year (roughly, 2000), he points out to a West Wing colleague, the U.S. Mint cut 14 billion pennies, but they are worthless: the penny’s buying power has shrunk to nothing, while the buying power of the dollar is that of the quarter forty years ago. Warming to his […]

By |November 13th, 2015|0 Comments

Heads Up

Tour photographer MJ Kim
Three times a week my wife goes to our nearest sports club and takes Pilates lessons. She swears by them. The gym is often crowded, and one of the regulars is Paul McCartney’s wife, Nancy Shevell. Sir Paul, now 70, often comes to work out too, but whereas his wife has a regular trainer he does exercises all on his own. Apparently, he always finishes the same way — by standing on his head, for a long […]

By |November 10th, 2015|0 Comments

Keeping Abreast of the Times

I have been reading the memoirs of Edna O’Brien, aged 82. Back in the late 1970s, I was the junior editor at William Collins (as it then was) who had to supervise an omnibus edition of her best-known novels, for which she wrote a special introduction. I read the page proofs carefully, and was horrified when Ms. O’Brien rang me, on receiving a finished copy of the book, to complain that the printers had missed out an entire paragraph from […]

By |November 9th, 2015|0 Comments

Isn’t It Romantic?

I was recently given The Etymologicon, subtitled ‘A Circular Stroll Through the Hidden Connections of the English Language, compiled by Mark Forsyth. I am enjoying it vastly, and one of the essays I turned to first — as I am in the midst of writing about ancient Roman historians — is on romance languages. Where do the words ‘romantic’ or ‘historical romance’ come from? The ancient Romans wrote in Latin, a formal and demanding language. But on the streets Romans […]

By |November 5th, 2015|0 Comments

Take a Tip From Me

In London recently, I left my wallet in a taxi, and that evening received an email from the police station near St Paul’s saying the wallet had been handed in: as it contained about £60 the reward I should pay was £8.48. The next day I took another taxi (and very great care hoarding my belongings) to the police station, which is a bit out of the way of tube stops. I told my driver about my carelessness, and that […]

By |November 2nd, 2015|0 Comments

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