Month: May 2009

Black Swans Return to Chartwell

Black Swans Return to Chartwell

 

“All the black swans are mat­ing, not only the father and moth­er, but both broth­ers and both sis­ters have paired off. The Ptole­mys always did this and Cleopa­tra was the result. At any rate I have not thought it my duty to inter­fere.”  —Churchill to his wife, Chartwell, 21 Jan­u­ary 1935

Sev­en­ty-five years ago Lady Diana Coop­er observed that Chartwell’s birds “con­sist of five fool­ish geese, five furi­ous black swans, two rud­dy shel­drakes, two white swans—Mr. Juno and Mrs. Jupiter, so called because they got the sex­es wrong to begin with, two Cana­di­an geese (‘Lord and Lady Beaver­brook’) and some mis­cel­la­neous ducks.”

Chartwell’s black swans have been looked after as zeal­ous­ly as the apes on Gibral­tar, but over the years maraud­ing fox­es and mink had reduced the pop­u­la­tion, which reached zero last year.…

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Jack French Kemp 1935-2009

Jack French Kemp 1935-2009

 

“DASH OF GREYHOUND, SLIPPING THONGS…”

On Eleuthera, where we live from Decem­ber to April, there was vast fas­ci­na­tion, as one might expect, in the recent U.S. Pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. One of the virtues of this Bahamas island far out in the Atlantic is that racism, in the sense we all know it in the so-called First World, doesn’t real­ly exist. On our easy-going trop­i­cal strand, amid the smiles of wel­com­ing locals and old friends who have known each oth­er for years, it just doesn’t seem to mat­ter whether the face in front of you is black or white.…

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O’Reilly, Churchill and “Poison Gas”

O’Reilly, Churchill and “Poison Gas”

A famous quote from the Viet­nam War, alleged to have been made by a U.S. pilot but actu­al­ly uttered by jour­nal­ist Peter Arnett, was: “…it became nec­es­sary to destroy the town to save it.” I was remind­ed of it when Bill O’Reilly on Fri­day May 8th destroyed Churchill in order to save him.

Intent on dis­prov­ing Barack Obama’s non-quote of Churchill (“We don’t tor­ture”; see “Oba­ma, Churchill and Tor­ture”), the Fox News Chan­nel com­men­ta­tor, con­duct­ed an “inves­ti­ga­tion,” which turned out to be a phone call to a pro­fes­sor at Boston Uni­ver­si­ty, whose name I for­get.…

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