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Category Archives: Journalism

Living in a ghost town

Ten years ago, I wrote the world’s first review of Chinaman, for the Sri Lankan Sunday Times. Last week, I interviewed Shehan Karunatilaka at the launch of his new novel, Chats with the Dead, at Barefoot Gallery. Here are the (brutally-abbreviated) highlights of those proceedings. – For The Sunday Times (SL)

Selassie come home

The Shadow King by Maaza Mengiste Canongate, £16.99, pp. 428 . In 1935 the troops of Benito Mussolini’s sinister-clownish Roman Empire II invaded Ethiopia, in large part out of spite for Italy’s embarrassing defeat there 40 years before. Initially largely uncontested – thanks both to emperor Haile Selassie’s desperate faith in international brotherhood and to [...]

Trouble at t’Mill

The curious life of John Stuart Mill, philosopher . When JS Mill was born, his father, James, challenged a friend to ‘race with you in the education of… the most accomplished and virtuous young man.’ That other child has not gone down in history – but he may well have dodged a serious bullet. Learning [...]

You want appease of me?!

The Hitler Years: Triumph 1933-1939 by Frank McDonough Head of Zeus £30 . In the early- to mid-1930s my grandmother (Irish, South African, later Australian) lived for a few years in the east of Germany, as a language assistant/housemistress in a boarding school. Her one recorded comment about Hitler’s accession to power was that he [...]

NEWS AT A GLANCE

. There are more kilts in London than in Scotland. — The Nelson Evening Mail, Thursday, May 9 1907 . At 45% of the population, white Christians are a shrinking demographic in America. Hermal eggings are so leek. No sensitive person would choose to be the historian of the Irish asylums in the first part of the [...]

NEWS AT A GLANCE

. The Government of India collects about £7,000,000 from the sale of opium. — The Nelson Evening Mail, Thursday, July 19 1906 . Jacob Zuma is the only black South African president never to lift the rugby world cup. At Morrisons, your opinion gets rewarded with a £500 voucher. Vegetarianism, which is based on false hypotheses and ideas, [...]

NEWS AT A GLANCE

. During one year a high police official in New York was offered £120,000 in bribes to “look the other way.” — The Nelson Evening Mail, Tuesday, June 22 1909 . The night is chilly to a man without clothes. You get a free tote bag if you subscribe to almost anything. Sussex folk have few superstitions. There [...]

Master class

An evening with Kumar Sangakkara. – For the Sri Lankan Sunday Times

NEWS AT A GLANCE

. The diamond, in sufficient heat, will burn like a piece of charcoal. — The Nelson Evening Mail, Saturday, November 17 1906 . Podcasts will soon be like porn. The first three volumes of TS Eliot’s letters have been remaindered. Confidence travels. The door is a jar. Roken is dodelijk. Humans’ rubbish is the filthiest stuff [...]

NEWS AT A GLANCE

. The King has a collection of 170 curious walking sticks. One is made from one of the piles of old London Bridge. — The Nelson Evening Mail, Wednesday, April 10 1907 . All the best people are born in October. In Moldova (and Czechoslovakia), ‘carp’ is spelled ‘crap’. In 1492 Native Americans discovered Columbus lost [...]