An outbreak of good manners

28th February 2018 8

I am so used to lamentation – my own, that is – that I know that I am sometimes inclined to overlook how much better certain things have become of late years. We notice deterioration; we take improvement for granted the moment they have occurred. Among the things that have improved in the London Underground. I spent most of my … [Read on]

Hit and Run

13th December 2017 4

Once when I was driving in Port Harcourt in Nigeria with my friend, Ken Saro-Wiwa (the writer who was later hanged by a military regime), we heard over the car radio an appeal for the owner of the naked man’s body on the side of one the main roads to come and collect it. A few minutes later we drove … [Read on]

Beyoncé Studies

4th December 2017 8

The musicology department of Copenhagen University is to offer a course on the music of Bayoncé. It would be fun, it said. I think it is probably true that most readers of the Review have limited knowledge of Beyoncé; but to judge by the number of entries on Google devoted to her, she is 25 per cent more important than … [Read on]

It begins with eggs, then it is firebombs

28th November 2017 14

Not many literary festivals end in violence, but the Lewes Speakers’ Festival last weekend did so. About 100 protesters tried to prevent Katie Hopkins, the Daily Mail columnist,, from speaking there about her autobiographical book, Rude, and succeeded. She left when the police said that they could no longer guarantee her safety. I spoke immediately before Katie Hopkins, who guarded by … [Read on]

Evening all! Actually not at all.

22nd October 2017 6

The other week there was a town meeting at which our local Police and Crime Commissioner spoke. First he explained what he did in return for his £100,000 a year, though I cannot now remember what exactly it was. Did he commission crime? This is a very important role, for what would the army of lawyers we have trained do … [Read on]

Turkish Delight

13th October 2017 1

Waiting for a flight in Istanbul Airport recently, two policemen with a large black muzzled Alsatian dog walked by at a distance of perhaps twenty yards. ‘That dog is useless,’ said a Turk in his mid-twenties sitting next to me. He spoke excellent American-accented English; his baseball cap was pointed backwards as a sign of his liberation. ‘If it had … [Read on]

Me in a Niqab

25th September 2017 3

You would not normally expect pointed social commentary in cartoon form in the Bahraini English-language daily newspaper, but I was pleasantly surprised to find precisely such a cartoon when, on a recent visit to that small kingdom, I opened the newspaper (the Gulf Daily News). A man at a funeral was taking a selfie with an idiotic smile on his … [Read on]

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