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When riches corrupt a nation

We are witnessing an entire country in freefall in which nine out of ten people cannot afford their daily food and where health care has collapsed to such an extent that experts warn of imminent epidemics of malaria and dengue. Inflation is frightening at 1,370,000 % pa measured two months ago up. No surprise, then, that people are leaving en masse; more than 10% have recently fled the country. We are talking about Venezuela. There is an excellent piece on this morning’s BBC news website: All you need to know about the crisis in nine charts: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-46999668 The political situation is dire. In fact, the crisis began with a revolution whic

Come on, Leonardo, we haven’t got all day!

Now that I have retired I am planning to do some painting and so for inspiration I went this Tuesday to the Leonardo Da Vinci exhibition at the Walker Art Gallery. The plan is that next week I will be painting the front downstairs bedroom as well as the hall and the lesson I learnt from Leonardo was simple: painstaking preparation. The exhibition is of 12 of his drawings on temporary loan from the Royal Collection to mark the 500thanniversary of the artist’s death. (The fact that HRH Prince Charles was just over the road in St George’s Hall simply added to the moment.) Great exhibition. Very well displayed but you need good eyesight to appreciate Leonardo’s genius. In fact, the

When our books own us

Great belated birthday gift from Alan and Wanda: Neil Oliver’s “The story of the British Isles in 100 places.” I look forward to reading it and also to referring to it during our travels. However, a weighty book – it is 4 cms thick. That is important because of my policy on books. This is a product of our successful downsizing last year which included a massive cull of my books: nearly all went. So today all my books – including photograph albums, fit into my new Ikea book cases. Hold on – I will just measure them. Where’s my tape measure? Each shelf is 120 cms and there are six shelves. So all the books which I own occupy 720 cms of shelf space. Which means if Oliver’s book goe

Some transitions take time

I almost lost my breath as I was hit by a solid wall of cold air as I started to trudge down the steps, one hand near-frozen as I held onto the rail while I grabbed my cabin luggage in the other. Sadly there was no airbridge provided as we disembarked at Manchester airport on Tuesday So we were forced to cross the tarmac a hundred metres or so to the Arrivals door in the icy blast. I was traumatised. Only a few hours earlier we had been driving in the bright sunshine to Tenerife South Airport, temperature a pleasant 23 degrees or so. The contrast was startling. Even so we were fortunate – we were one of the last flights to land before the airport was closed by snow. But

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