Opinion

Consular Work

My latest piece for DIPLOMAT (now in groovy online format) looks at Consular work. Thus: The world is a big place, replete with unexpected problems. Tsunamis, earthquakes, avalanches, terrorist or criminal attacks, robberies, lost passports, aircraft/train/car accidents, sex-traps, arrests, illness, poisonous spiders, unrest at football matches, kidnappings, coups d’état, drug-smuggling, […]

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Dead Cats Matter

This piece was first posted at the now defunct US website PunditWire. I had a lot of good stuff there, now lost to civilisation. So I’ll repost updated versions of some of my pieces here, to let them linger on the Internet a while longer. This one on ‘framing’ is […]

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Chess and Sportsmanship

Remember this one from 2011 on India’s cricketing sportsmanship? The amazing thing here was that at this point of the match, Bell was crushing the Indian bowling and had turned the whole match strongly in England’s favour. So to allow him to continue when the Indians could easily have said […]

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Diana’s Own Words

Channel 5 has shown a rather good programme about the life of Diana, Princess of Wales as revealed by her public speeches and interviews. Here is the link – it no doubt will fade away from the Internet soon. I was interviewed for this and for a companion programme on […]

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#COVID19 – Endless Lockdown Madness

Back in April as the #lockdown began to bite I wrote about measuring: … What’s the baseline  test in such cases for measuring what categories exist and how our language and practice and laws deal with them? What claims make sense? And so to #COVID19. Might the current lockdown and generalised […]

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Meghan and Harry Can’t Write

Here is Sky News sharing with a startled world the full text of a letter or announcement sent by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to four UK newspapers. Oh dear. Let’s while away the #COVID19 emptiness by going through it in all its ineptitude. Wait … is it a […]

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English Pluralz: S and Z

Foreigners! Looking to improve your English at a stroke? Get right the difference between the -S and -Z sounds. This does not apply only to words ending in -s (usually plural nouns or present tense verbs), but that’s a good place to start to grasp the distinction. Thus. The sounds […]

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Correct Punctuation

School-children may get asked grammar questions like this: Is this punctuated correctly? “Aslam’s home was broken into by thieves. When, he was away in Lahore on business” On the whole, not! It depends what you mean by ‘correctly’, and that depends on what EXACTLY you want to say. Punctuation is about […]

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Quitting Quora

I previously have mentioned my presence on Quora. I have posted all sorts of things there, one reason why this very blog is now anaemic. But enough is enough. I have (I think) set in motion the deletion of my Quora account and all my now sprawling Quora content. Quora […]

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British Accents

Can you spot a fake British accent? Can you spot a real one? Once back in Belgrade I was talking to a woman married to a Dutch diplomat. I told her that her English was absolutely superb. She told me that she WAS English. The point was that as she […]

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