Sunday 30 July 2017

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

Giving someone your full attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.

Simone Weil

Then let us love one another and laugh. Time passes, and we shall soon laugh no longer—and meanwhile common living is a burden, and earnest men are in siege upon us all around. Let us suffer absurdities, for this is only to suffer one another.

Hilaire Belloc

Friday 28 July 2017

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

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

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.

Saturday 22 July 2017

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.

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

We are born into this time and must bravely follow the path to the destined end. There is no other way. Our duty is to hold on to the lost position, without hope, without rescue, like that Roman soldier whose bones were found in front of a door in Pompeii, who, during the eruption of Vesuvius, died at his post because they forgot to relieve him. That is greatness. That is what it means to be a thoroughbred. The honorable end is the one thing that can not be taken from a man.
Oswald Spengler

Attempts to limit female mobility by hampering locomotion are ancient and almost universal. The foot-binding of upper-class Chinese girls and the Nigerian custom of loading women's legs with pounds of heavy brass wire are extreme examples, but all over the world similar stratagems have been employed to make sure that once you have caught a woman she cannot run away, and even if she stays around she cannot keep up with you. ... Literally as well as figuratively modern women's shoes are what keeps Samantha from running as fast as Sammy.
Alison Lurie

Women love the State, they see it as a protector to keep things safe, and always vote for more Big Government.
Suzanne Hill

I am obliged to you for sending me your petition, but I am returning it without signature. I confess I am attached to the current forms of words, and I also I am what you have often heard of but perhaps not often seen, a real conservative, who thinks change an evil in itself.
A.E. Housman
(acknowledgements, Laudator Temporis Acti)

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.

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

Saturday 15 July 2017

"I've Worked with Refugees for Decades. Europe's Afghan Crime Wave Is Mind-Boggling"

I hadn't heard about problems caused by Afghan refugees in Europe until I read this interesting and very dismaying article in the very respectable American magazine 'National Interest' by Cheryl Benard, who has worked for many years in refugee programmes and says she found it very hard to write. She details a dismaying history of rapes and sexual assaults and tries to find explanations.

The following explanation is very worrying. It was 
offered by an experienced Afghan court translator in Austria whom she quotes. 

The myth of Britain’s decline

Robert Tombs, who supervised me at university, has written a timely piece on Brexit and declinism entitled
The myth of Britain’s decline
 with the encouraging sub-headline
Our glory days are not over – they’re in full swing
I quote him.
Who would deny that Britain is no longer the great power it once was? Well, speaking as a historian, I would. Declinism is at best a distortion of reality, and


They may talk as they please about what they call pelf,
And how one ought never to think of one's self,
And how pleasures of thought surpass eating and drinking--
My pleasure of thought is the pleasure of thinking
How pleasant it is to have money, heigh ho!
How pleasant it is to have money.
A.H. Clough

White marble and white supremacy

In a recent article, Professor Sarah Bond, of the University of Iowa, reminds us that classical statues were painted in lifelike colour (they must have resemble Madame Tussaud's) and argues that "the equation of white marble with beauty" contributes to "white supremacist ideas today". 

“The assemblage of neon whiteness serves to create a false idea of homogeneity — everyone was very white! — across the Mediterranean region - [provides] further ammunition for white supremacists today, including groups like Identity Europa, who use classical statuary as a symbol of white male superiority.”

This is not just another crazy America story but an example of a very important trend in current thinking. It's connected to the reasons why many clever Americans thought Donald Trump, by extolling the West in his Warsaw speech, was racist.

Is the French revolution responsible for most of the world's problems today?

'For the average person, all problems date to World War II; for the more informed, to World War I; for the genuine historian, to the French Revolution.' Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn
An academic called Dr Cliff Arnall has discovered that July 14 is the day when we English feel happiest each year. 

I love the balmy days of July in Bucharest, despite the merciless heat, but July 14th is Bastille Day and not a day on which a conservative can rejoice.

I have always been one of those who blames most of the world's problems on the 1914-18 War but I start to think Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn may be right. 

Thursday 13 July 2017


It is impossible to live pleasurably without living wisely, well, and justly, and it is impossible to live wisely, well, and justly without living pleasurably. Epicurus

The presence of oceans on much of the earth's surface makes it impossible for any state to achieve global hegemony. John Mearsheimer

Tuesday 11 July 2017


'The cold biological truth is that sex changes are impossible.' Camille Paglia

'A sexy woman can have almost any man she wants. And a rich guy can have almost any woman he wants.' Oliver Markus

Posted on Facebook by the late Peter Risdon

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, text and outdoor

How much I wish he were here to comment on the fall of Mosul on Facebook, even though I am sure I would completely disagree with him - as I always did on the Middle East.

The language of the 21st century

"Globally, people now spend nearly four times as much time accessing the Internet from mobile devices as they do from desktops. 'Computers' are on their way to becoming an anachronism rarely seen outside of the office. I’d argue that even the way we think is increasingly mobile in nature: for better or worse, small visual bites have replaced big chunks of text as the language of the 21st century."
Ryan Holmes

5 quotations

"The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance; it is the illusion of knowledge."
Daniel Boorstin

A man may be in as just possession of truth as of a city, and yet be forced to surrender.
Sir Thomas Browne

Sunday 9 July 2017

Europe’s Last Battle

Here is a fascinating account of Georgians and Germans fighting in Holland, just before and after the Second World War ended. The Georgians were sent back to Stalin, despite their hopes of finding safety in the West by killing Germans.

Sunday 2 July 2017

More quotations from Lord Salisbury

The commonest error in politics is sticking to the carcass of dead policies.

Letter to Lord Lytton (25 May 1877), quoted in Cecil, The Life of Robert, Marquis of Salisbury. Volume II, p. 145

...the splitting up of mankind into a multitude of infinitesimal governments, in accordance with their actual differences of dialect or their presumed differences of race, would be to undo the work of civilisation and renounce all the benefits which the slow and painful process of consolidation has procured for mankind...It is the agglomeration and not the comminution of states to which civilisation is constantly tending; it is the fusion and not the isolation of races by which the physical and moral excellence of the species is advanced. There are races, as there are trees, which cannot stand erect by themselves, and which, if their growth is not hindered by artificial constraints, are all the healthier for twining round some robuster stem.

Bentley's Quarterly Review, 1, (1859), p. 22

Wherever democracy has prevailed, the power of the State has been used in some form or other to plunder the well-to-do classes for the benefit of the poor.

Quarterly Review, 110, 1861, p. 281