Development, Economy, Environment, Food Politics, France, Gastronomy, Uncategorized

In Praise of Hemp

(Published in the Sunday Times, 19/10/14) In Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar a marauding mob scour the city for the Emperor’s assassins. They chance upon Cinna the Poet, namesake of one the conspirators. On being asked his name, fatally he replies ‘Cinna’ at which point the First Citizen cries ‘tear him to pieces; he’s a conspirator’. Understandably vexed Cinna wails: ‘I am …


Book Review, Communism, Czech Republic, Eastern Europe, France, Uncategorized

In Defence of Kundera’s Absurdity

(Published in Village Magazine, November/December 2015) Portentousness is the word that best describes most Anglo-American literary criticism. The canon seems to demand erudition and a knowing hauteur loaded with an impression of being slightly jaded by the cocktail party circuit. That at least is the tone favoured by the Times Literary Supplement whose reviewers tend to devour books as A. …


Large scale immigration requires ‘the nation’ to be redefined

(Published in Metro Eireann, 2007) ‘Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel’ (Samuel Johnson, 1709-1784) Provisional census figures indicate that the there are approximately 400,000 non-nationals living in this country. Coping with such a level of diversity is a new challenge for the indigenous population of a peripheral island historically removed from the European mainstream, une isle derriere une isle …

The Thin End of a Hamburger-Shaped Wedge

(London Magazine, October/November, 2011) While we ourselves are the living graves of murdered beasts, how can we expect any ideal conditions on this earth? – George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) The appearance in men’s lives of domestic animals as a reserve of meat and energy, proved to be a continuing originality of the West – Fernand Braudel (1902-1985) Last year I …