Last chances in the Middle East have been two a dirham since the 1950s. Each year the enmities are more profound, the despots more bloodthirsty and clownish, the violence more extreme, and the conditions of ordinary existence more ghastly.
Losing your capital is like losing your trousers. It is a real humiliation, and one not to be soon repeated.
Is there any purpose to translating poetry? A poem does not contain information of importance, like a signpost or a warning notice.
Europe and North America, we are told, are less dependent on energy-intensive heavy industry than in the 1960s and 1970s. It seems we squeeze more GDP out of a barrel of oil than in those benighted days.
One of the admirable features of British novelists is that they have no scruple about setting their stories in foreign settings with wholly foreign personnel.
Since the attack on the United States on September 11 2001, and the US retaliation in Afghanistan and Iraq, there must be few people who have not felt a twinge of nostalgia for the cold war.