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Bertrand Russell wishes you a happy marriage

for Paul and Beth

‘Whitehead and Russell’s
Principia Mathematica is famous for taking a thousand pages to prove that 1+1=2.’
— Mark Dominus

‘To say shortly why one values love is not easy.’
— Bertrand Russell


I know what life and love may be.

If alpha and beta are in the set of all sets with exactly one element, then

Love is an experience in which our whole being is renewed and refreshed, as is that of plants by rain after drought.

alpha and beta’s intersection is disjoint if and only if

Love is to be valued in itself as a source of delight – and its absence as a source of pain.

alpha and beta’s union is the set of all sets with exactly two elements.

People when they fall in love look for a little haven of refuge from the world.

If alpha equals the set containing x and beta equals the set containing y

Love can only flourish as long as it is free and spontaneous

then alpha and beta’s union is in the set of all sets with exactly two elements

which makes a serious love the most fructifying of all human experiences.

if and only if x is not equal to y.

I do not pretend that love in its highest form is common.

This is true if and only if

I want love to be like a beacon fire lighting up the darkness.

the intersection of the set containing x

Of all forms of caution, caution in love is the most fatal to true happiness.

and the set containing y

The kind of love I can believe in is adventurous and open-eyed.

is disjoint.

It does not pretend to be sanctified or holy.

This is true if and only if

A man may consider himself such a dreadful person that no one could possibly love him.

the intersection of alpha and beta is disjoint.

And in old days women were driven into marriage by the intolerable conditions of life for the spinster.

If Assertion One is true then if it is true that there exist x and y

Our emotions in regard to love and marriage are becoming standardised according to Hollywood’s recipe.

such that alpha is the set containing x

The traditional moralist will say that love should be unselfish

and beta is the set containing y

but it should undoubtedly be of such a nature that one’s happiness is bound up in its success.

then alpha and beta’s union is in the set of all sets

Love increases in value in proportion as more of the personalities of the people concerned enter into the relationship.

with exactly two elements

He should not rule in her province.

if and only if

Still less should she rule in his.

alpha and beta’s intersection is disjoint.

Love should be an equal relation.

If Assertion Two is true, then the present proposition is true.

Salvation can only come through love.

From this proposition it will follow

The philosopher should marry.

that 1+1=2.

Lucretius sees no harm in sexual intercourse.

The above proposition is occasionally useful.

Heroes in error

Review of War Porn.

For The Spectator

Missing in action

Review of A Long Watch: War, Captivity and Return in Sri Lanka.

For The Spectator

Peter, Mark, Roget. His Complete Poetical Works

On the Loss of Friends

That it is vain to shrink from

Bollcks to the new-born king!

Troll(ing) the ancient Yuletide carol.

For The Spectator

Easy Frisy

‘Some bread,
some butter,
and green cheese’
is as good in England
as it is in Frisia.

* from a synthetic translation exercise by John McWhorter

Freelance Writers’ Regiment

Who Dares Whinge

How d’you make a Maltese cross?

Fuck his missus.

The Sony Ericsson verb table

singular present indicative active


My literary career thus far – as narrated by the Shipping Forecast

becoming moderate.

Occasionally very poor.