It should have been a celebration of human achievement, a glorious coming together of athletes and sports men and women. The Munich Olympic Games in 1972 were designed to show a new Germany, relaxed, joyful and open to the world. In the words of West Germany's president at the time, Gustav Heinemann the Games would be "to overcome hatred and pave the way for reconciliation". It had been hoped it would erase the memory of the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, organised by Hitler. Instead in turned into a blood bath after one of the infamous terror attacks in history. One photo of a balaclava-clad terrorist became the face of the horror to follow, examined in History's Photos That Changed The World. For almost two weeks the Games passed peacefully. Police officers and security, deliberately dressed in light blue to promote the party atmosphere, were unaware of a deadly plot at the heart of the Games. Broadcaster Barry Davies, who was there to cover the Olympics, said: "Everyone who was there … [Read more...] about Black September’s face of terror before slaughter of innocent Olympic athletes
Why is the simmering batch of election fraud accusations against the Conservatives 2015 campaign team not making more of an impact in the mainstream media? It’s a good question and conspiracy theorists everywhere have already come up with their default answer. It’s a plot. With an eye-catching fresh allegation around on Wednesday – it’s untested but has caught my attention – all this may be about to change. No, I don’t mean the coroner’s suicide verdict on the young Tory activist Elliott Johnson, though that would be a wholesome development too. Part of my theory as to why coverage has been low-key is that when one media outlet is making much of the running – Channel 4 News and Mike Crick this time, plus the Mirror – other mainstream media are reluctant to take up a rival’s campaign or seek to rubbish it. We’ve seen that at the Guardian over issues such as phone hacking and Edward Snowden’s revelations about data … [Read more...] about Why is there so little noise about the Tory election fraud claims?
Eight years ago, in the coastal township of Shawbost on the Outer Hebridean island of Lewis, I was given an extraordinary document. It was entitled “Some Lewis Moorland Terms: A Peat Glossary”, and it listed Gaelic words and phrases for aspects of the tawny moorland that fills Lewis’s interior. Reading the glossary, I was amazed by the compressive elegance of its lexis, and its capacity for fine discrimination: a caochan, for instance, is “a slender moor-stream obscured by vegetation such that it is virtually hidden from sight”, while a feadan is “a small stream running from a moorland loch”, and a fèith is “a fine vein-like watercourse running through peat, often dry in the summer”. Other terms were striking for their visual poetry: rionnach maoim means “the shadows cast on the moorland by clouds moving across the sky on a bright and windy day”; èit refers to “the practice of placing quartz stones in … [Read more...] about The word-hoard: Robert Macfarlane on rewilding our language of landscape
"I was very consciously trying to write for an international audience," Kazuo Ishiguro says of The Remains of the Day in his Paris Review interview ("The Art of Fiction," No. 196). "One of the ways I thought I could do this was to take a myth of England that was known internationally – in this case, the English butler." "Jeeves was a big influence." This is a necessary genuflection. No literary butler can ever quite escape the gravitational field of Wodehouse's shimmering Reginald, gentleman's gentleman par excellence, saviour, so often, of Bertie Wooster's imperilled bacon. But, even in the Wodehousian canon, Jeeves does not stand alone. Behind him can be seen the rather more louche figure of the Earl of Emsworth's man, Sebastian Beach, enjoying a quiet tipple in the butler's pantry at Blandings Castle. And other butlers – Meadowes, Maple, Mulready, Purvis – float in and out of Wodehouse's world, not all of them pillars of probity. The English butler, the shadow that … [Read more...] about Salman Rushdie: rereading The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
Arthur & George by Julian Barnes, What a gentle journey Julian Barnes, that previously prickly writer, offers his readers now. His new book lays out a quietly intriguing real-life tale of turn-of-the-century British crime and punishment. You can see why a novelist would be drawn to this story - it features Arthur Conan Doyle as the hero of his own detective narrative, as he campaigns for an innocent man, George Edalji, who is wrongfully convicted of sending anonymous letters and mutilating farm animals. With its juicy clash between life and art, it's just the sort of raw material that looks as though it will easily jump into life in the hands of an accomplished novelist. Rather surprisingly, given his previous record of writing sharp, brisk fiction, Barnes has decided to mould the tale into a leisurely historical novel in which we chunter through conversations at a snail's pace and original letters and articles are reproduced verbatim. The novel is partly told from Arthur's point … [Read more...] about Our mutual friends