War and Peace by Angela Caldin

The Eurostar train slices smoothly through the flat landscape of northern France on its way to Brussels. The land looks rich and fertile with green fields of potatoes, oats, wheat and vegetables interspersed with the occasional startling yellow of oil seed rape. Herds of placid-looking cows graze near the isolated farmhouses surrounded by hedges. Rows of poplar trees spring up like soldiers from the ground, breaks against the wind that often sweeps over the level land. The only signs of life are teams of workers in white overalls spraying between the rows… Read More

It’s Not The Only Way To Go! By Trevor Plumbly

Some cling to the ideal of quietly passing away in their sleep while others feel that falling in the field of battle is the best way to go. Sadly, when it comes to kicking the bucket, we don’t really have much in the way of choice. But let’s spare a thought for those that fate decided to exploit to introduce a bit of variety into the process: In 1912, Franz Reichelt, a tailor, fell to his death from the first level of the Eiffel Tower. He leapt off in order to test… Read More

Be a Sport! By Trevor Plumbly

Most countries seem to have an unhealthy obsession with breeding world champions at some sport or other. It’s probably inherited from the Stone Age ‘mine’s bigger than yours’ contest, with the winner claiming the prize of the maiden. I have reached that august age where prowess of any sort is not of great import, thus I can look at the fleeting fancies of conquest with a jaundiced eye. Ordinarily, embryonic world champs (if there are such creatures) have some sort of sporting implement or ball practically glued to their hands or feet… Read More

Inheritance versus Election by Angela Caldin

I’ve been watching the celebrations for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee with enormous interest these last days and trying to decide whether I’m a monarchist or not. It’s beyond a doubt that our stalwart Queen has worked extremely hard for 60 years and been utterly committed to her duty. It’s also beyond question that, here in the UK, we know how to celebrate a royal occasion with a majestic flourish and how to put on a spectacular regal show, whatever the weather. Those 60 years embody a powerful argument for the monarchy, an… Read More

Unaccustomed as I am…By Trevor Plumbly

We’ve all suffered it: the wedding reception when the rumble of small-talk has replaced the clatter of crockery being cleared away. The glass pings, almost politely, and he rises to his feet surveying the seated guests in much the same way as Christopher Lee eyed the maiden’s neck in the old Dracula movies. This is the best man and it’s time for his shot at glory: the speech! He looks confidently at his wife, but rather than smile encouragement, she decides that the tablecloth needs her undivided attention. It’s not a good… Read More