The Five Martyrs of Morocco and the bloody Miramamolin

Last weekend I was in Oporto, where I visited the quite extraordinarily opulent church of St Francis. It is a rococo creation of such self-indulgent extravagance – 500 kilograms of gold are said to have been used in the gilding, and the whole interior is a vast, wriggling omelette of gold leaf – that on … More The Five Martyrs of Morocco and the bloody Miramamolin

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