Wild West Wind.

‘O wild west wind, thou breath of Autumn’s being, Thou from whose unseen presence the leaves dead Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing’ Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red …’ Last weekend I stood silently on the crest of a hill surveying the...

What Colour is Peace?

In all the fevered debates shadowing the UK’s departure from the European Union one word is rarely mentioned – peace. The historian Winston Churchill behind the better-known politician passionately supported the formation of the 1951 European Coal and Steel Community....

Woodlands

Not many years ago a young couple in our family received a present from Iran. It came in two special postal deliveries and created quite a stir in the small flat where they were living at the time. The wife is a British Iranian, so it was no surprise that her Iranian...

Serendipity

Not long ago UK voters chose ‘serendipity’ to be their favourite word though it only entered the English language about 270 years ago. It was invented by Horace Walpole – son of the first British prime minister, Robert Walpole – in 1754 from the Persian story of The...

The Lumber Room

One of the most powerful of many memorable sequences in the Visconti film of Il Gattopardo (The Leopard) is when the hero and heroine – Tancredi and Angelica (acted by Alain Delon and Claudia Cardinale) – run, frolicking, through the attic rooms of an immense and...

The Pattern of Centuries

A few years ago I went to the archives of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence to find out when the Tuscan mountainsides were first terraced. I had already walked through every room in the famous picture collection, hoping to find landscape replacing the gold of heaven in...