Henry Allingham has earned his long rest. A hundred and thirteen years old, he survived Jutland and Ypres. Like many veterans he didn’t talk about it until, in extreme old age, he agreed to tell the rising generations about the comrades he lost. Thus this modest old engineer became a familiar figure, laying wreaths at Remembrance services and willing to talk to schoolchildren and reporters. His age made him a living monument: in a quiet hardworking life he saw three centuries, six monarchs and twenty prime ministers.
Tributes ranged from an honorary doctorate in his lifetime to a minute’s silence at Lords on Saturday.… Seguir leyendo »
OK, it was only a speech. Actions must speak before it can be seen as a pivot of history. Yet President Obama’s address in Ghana lifted my heart, as rhetoric rarely does in these cynical days.
It felt important: the main speech, curiously, more important than the emotional visit to the slave fort. What he said there was fine, but has been said before. The earlier speech, on the other hand, was refreshingly new and direct: a message no pink-faced Western leader could have delivered without arousing resentment in Africa and politically correct abuse from hand-wringers at home. But Mr Obama?… Seguir leyendo »
Understandably distracted by our own little crisis of trust, we have perhaps not taken in the apocalyptic import of a bigger one across the Irish Sea.
Perhaps it is a vague sense that we knew it all; perhaps reluctance to engage with the horrid details of the Ryan report into child abuse by Irish clerics. Perhaps some think it is old history, a 1950s horror. Maybe there is even a decorous sense that — as a new Archbishop of Westminster is enthroned here — it is tasteless to dwell on the wickedness deliberately concealed by his Church right into the 1990s.… Seguir leyendo »
Dusk is falling in the Gulf of Aden; the sea is oily flat, and the day's heat still beats upward from the deck. The big freighter's small crew, perhaps Indian and Filipino with a few European officers, are nervous. Jumpy. They have every reason to be.
Suddenly the roaring of outboard engines is all around them. They run for the fire-hoses to repel boarders, but freeze as they are covered by AK47 rifles. Within minutes the ship is a hostage, steering for a lawless harbour. All they can do is hope that their owner pays up; for once again, Western commerce and international seafaring have been humiliated by a ragtag navy of Somali pirates.… Seguir leyendo »
Who says Sunday was a shambles? Who says the police were “humiliated”? A triumph, I call it. What are the Olympics about if not persistence, courage and goodwill towards foreigners (in this case Tibetans), and the expression of these qualities through the kind of doughty physical fitness that leaps over barriers and wrestles sinewy opponents? As for the police, they did their job and kept everyone concerned alive. Good.
OK, a few of the protesters were just out for a ruck; that is the case in all demonstrations. But most were sincere and non-violent and took pains to get Tibetan flags and paint literate banners.… Seguir leyendo »