Long live the king?

It was the great 16th Century French essayist Michel de Montaigne who best expressed the idea that travel broadens the mind: “Je ne sache point meilleure école à former la vie”.* To travel, though, is not only to learn more about ourselves, but also to catch what we may be tempted to label brief glimpses of truth, glimpses that are rarely – if ever – afforded to those who live, day in and day out, in the pell-mell of our destinations. An outsider’s empiricism is often the best kind: nonpartisan, unflinching, honest. One such glimpse occurred to me as I was travelling down one of the many canals that form the veins and arteries of the Chao Phraya River, as it carves its way through the magnificent heart of Bangkok. “Long live our beloved king,” the banner read, flailing desperately in the wind that rushed across the waterway, interminably barraging …

An interview with David Miliband

“If you ask that, you’re dead”. Perhaps asking Philip Mudd, a senior CIA and FBI operative, what question he most feared was a naïve error of judgment. But I certainly didn’t expect a death threat. Fortunately for me, David Miliband’s congenial persona swept away the atmosphere of a Guantanamo interrogation room. His history is impressive to say the least: the youngest Foreign Secretary for 30 years; Environment Secretary; winner of the most number of votes of Labour MPs and Labour Party members, but not of Trade Unionists, in the 2010 Labour leadership election… the list goes on. And just when I’m on the point of questioning whether I have the requisite acumen to interview a political colossus, he steps into the room, the last of the evening sunlight spotlighting his face. In the flesh, he’s an imposing presence, confident in stature, a streak of white hair bristling on a bed …

Time to put a stop to celeb fever

“You’re not anyone in America unless you’re on TV”. In one fell swoop, Nicole Kidman proffered a sad indictment of a culture on the brink. As the consequences of ‘celebrity’ metastasise day by day, we wallow in a mire of intellectual degradation. Leave your dignity at the door, and enter if you dare. In the age of celebrity for celebrity’s sake, it’s less a case of what’s in the public’s interest, than what’s interesting to the public. And we’re hooked. It’s about time we went cold turkey. Twitterati illuminate the blogosphere like countless moths orbiting a light bulb, radiating their toxic gibberish, contaminating the rest of us. Enough is enough, don’t you think? Their noxious gases infect the morality of an increasingly globalised world, not to mention the money and time celeb-junkies waste to get their latest fix. If one of your family members is a drug addict, you’ve got …