The wind leafed through them: ask the bin-man

A very touching and beautifully-observed piece in the TLS this week, by Louise Callaghan of the Sunday Times, about the liability that books can become in a fast-changing political climate. “If you want to know a city’s secrets,” she begins, “ask the bin-man.” Talking in Istanbul to Ahmet the Kurdish bin-man, she discovers that people … More The wind leafed through them: ask the bin-man

South of Black Tickle and north of the DMZ

Mr Kim Jong-Un, hero of The Interview, last year announced that North Korea’s clocks would shift back by half an hour. This is a fascinatingly Borgesian gesture, apparently based on the notion that controlling one’s own clocks is a serious measure of autonomy and national moral muscle. “Wicked Japanese imperialists” had, according to the curious … More South of Black Tickle and north of the DMZ

‘Some obscure sex twist’ and a lone petrol pump

Turning to Willie Seabrook, a couple more of whose books have landed in my letter-box this week, I find a curious, unattractive, enigma. His books are enjoyable, self-regarding, mostly light-hearted journalism. They record his extensive travel in some of the remoter regions of the world in the 1920s and 30s. The time of which he … More ‘Some obscure sex twist’ and a lone petrol pump