Monday, 30 April 2018

Sibiu or Hermannstadt

They just drew back the ceiling at the Hotel Imperatul Romanilor in Sibiu to let in a sunny April morning. It's one of my favourite hotels, old, a bit down at heel, a faded grand dame. Its real name is the Romische Kaiser and it was founded in 1555, which is not old by English standards but is by Transylvanian standards and unheard of in where I live, in Wallachia, on the other side of the Carpathians.

Sibiu in 1999 when I first came was stunningly beautiful and as decayed and broken as Havana or Rangoon. Now it is rather depressingly well painted and tidy, but this is good, I remind myself. And there is still a fair amount of peeling paint if you leave the Big Square. It draws many tourists who are having breakfast beside me but it is not an over painted tourist gem like Brasov.

Sibiu is full of lovely Catholic, Protestant and Unitarian churches and lovely town palaces built for German noblemen. It was built by Germans and the majority of the people here were German until most were expelled after the war for the sins of their countrymen far away. The rest mostly went to West Germany in return for large subventions for Ceausescu or left after the revolution. About two thousand remain, one of whom left for Bucharest where he is the current President of Romania, Klaus Iohannis.

Ethnic displacement happened in cities throughout Eastern Europe that were once occupied by Germans and Jews. It happened to the Ascendancy towns of Southern Ireland. It will presumably happen in London and Paris, where the imperial monuments built by conquering peoples are increasingly inhabited by the descendants of the conquered.

Some good news - Amber Rudd goes

It is right that British Home Secretary (Interior Minister) Miss Rudd resigned. We have moved on a long way from Crichel Down when a cabinet minister resigned because of a mistake by civil servants that he could not possibly have known about. But a minister is responsible for what is done by his department. She should take responsibility for her department's mistakes.

Like the useless Theresa May whom she replaced as Home Secretary, she got where she was because Messrs. Cameron and Osborne (as the great Frank Johnson said, they sound like a firm that makes wallpaper) wanted women in top jobs. 


This is why she was parachuted into the Commons a mere eight years ago. This is so unlike Mrs. Thatcher, who overcame much prejudice because of her sex and still insisted that feminism was poison.

Some elderly and middle aged people from what is misleadingly called 'the Windrush generation' (the first ship that landed in Tilbury with West Indian immigrants was called the Empire Windrush, but the word Empire is always dropped and some of the immigrants in question came twenty-five years later) have been threatened with deportation when they were not knowingly illegal immigrants. They came to England as children when they did not need papers of their own and do not have any. 


This is unacceptable, incompetent and heartless, is a reason why Amber Rudd should go, especially as she was economical with the actualité, but it should not be used as a reason to forget about genuine illegal immigrants. 

What is important is that many more real illegal immigrants be deported. Targets are for once a good idea. Instead this mess will be used to forget about deportations.

Miss Rudd is a cleverer, prettier version of Theresa May, equally untalented, equally unconservative and equally authoritarian. I hope her idea of sending people to gaol for reading extremist pages on the internet is forgotten as quickly as she is, but I fear we have not heard the last of her or that proposal. I hope Michael Gove replaces her.


The good news is that she will not now replace Theresa May when she in her turn goes, which I hope will be fairly soon.

Who should? 

Michael Gove probably. Theresa May has shown that Brexit needs to be implemented by someone who campaigned for it and believes in it.

Friday, 27 April 2018

There is no France B or Europe B

President Macron liked this line from his speech in the USA so much that he tweeted it as a meme.





He is said to be very intelligent and clearly is, but not intelligent enough, or not sufficiently sceptical by disposition, to see through the climate change scare.


Or to see the much bigger danger confronting France, which is this.


There is nowhere for the French to go if they ruin France.


And they are ruining it, through their immigration policy.

Prince Louis

Lewis is the English spelling. Macaulay wrote about King Lewis XIV.

Thursday, 26 April 2018

Tweets

Migration Watch UK‏ Verified account @MigrationWatch
A new home will need to be built in England every five minutes, night and day, in the period until 2039, just to house future migrants and their families


Fr. Marc Lyden-Smith‏ @frlydensmith
Who you become is infinitely more important than what you do, or what you have.

Thomas Sowell‏ @ThomasSowell
“We are among the biggest fools in history if we keep on paying people to make us hate each other. Whether it is called by pretty names like 'multiculturalism,' 'diversity' or 'gender awareness,' that is what it all boils down to.”


Tom Gallagher‏ @cultfree54

 'The nation that gave the world John Milton and Thomas Paine and John Stuart Mill, among history's greatest articulators of the centrality of freedom of thought and speech... now puts people on trial for telling jokes or singing songs'.

95% of Romanians believe in God, as opposed to 28% in Great Britain

72% of Americans believe in a divinity, according to a Pew survey this week.


According to a Pew survey last year 88% of Eastern Europeans (including the population of the former Soviet Union in Europe and the Greeks) do so.

95% of Romanians believe in God.


The one country in the former Soviet bloc where belief in God is unusual is Czechia, where 66% of people do not believe in God. I think this is because Catholicism was forced on the Czechs by military might, as it was on Hungary and France, but the figure for believers in Hungary, which does not seem a religious country, is 59%. The full figures from the survey last year are here.

In France it was 27% in 2010 but, by contrast, a couple of years ago 25% of French children of 15 told a survey that they were Muslim.


28% of people in the UK believe in God according to a survey in December 2016, of whom many are Muslim, Hindu or belong to other exotic faiths. Of the Christians, many are of Eastern European, African, Caribbean, Filipino or Cypriot stock. The figures for Northern Ireland also skew the figures. 

Monday, 23 April 2018

Robert Tombs: universities now teach civilisations, not western civilisation

In an article in The Times today historian Robert Tombs says that Cambridge now avoids the history of Western civilisation.
'In my own university, Cambridge, once-popular courses called “The Expansion of Europe” and “The West and the Third World” have long been replaced by a decentred “World History”. Simon Schama and Mary Beard now celebrate not “Civilisation” in their BBC TV series but “Civilisations”.'

God save the new prince

This blog greets with delight the prince who was born today.

How Prince William's birth seems to me. I have good reason to remember that evening well.

Quite unbelievably BBC Radio 4 news put the new prince in 3rd place! After, first, free citizenship for the Empire (why is that word always omitted?) Windrush immigrants and, second, the creation of Stephen Lawrence Day! 

(That's unbelievable in itself. Why not Drummer Rigby Day?)

Barbara Bush subverts careerism

The third choice that must not be missed is to cherish your human connections: your relationships with family and friends. For several years, you’ve had impressed upon you the importance to your career of dedication and hard work, and, of course, that’s true. But as important as your obligations as a doctor, lawyer, or business leader will be, you are a human being first and those human connections—with spouses, with children, with friends—are the most important investments you will ever make. At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, not winning one more verdict, or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a child, a friend, or a parent. . . .
Whatever the era, whatever the times, one thing will never change: Fathers and mothers, if you have children—they must come first.

The late Barbara Bush, who died on Tuesday, in her commencement address to the 1990 class of Wellesley College, the leading U.S. women's college.

The FBI men who guarded her for decades guarded her coffin at her funeral.

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Quotations from Sir Roger Scruton

"Conservatives should study the ideas and arguments that prevail on the left. There is always something to learn from these, if only which way the wind of resentment is now blowing. And lifting your eyes from this joyless stuff, you will thank God that you are a conservative."

Saturday, 21 April 2018

Enoch Powell: "In the Middle East our great enemies are the Americans."


"Ah, Enoch, dear Enoch! He once said something to me I never understood. He said, "You know, I've told you all I know about housing, and you can make your speech accordingly. Can I talk to you about something that you know all about and I know nothing? I want to tell you that in the Middle East our great enemies are the Americans." You know, I had no idea what he meant. I do now."

Sir Anthony Eden to Andrew Freeth after the Suez Crisis

Was Enoch Powell a racist?

Asked in an 1969 television interview as to whether he was a 'racialist' Enoch Powell replied: 
If you mean being conscious of the differences between men and nations, and from that, races, then we are all racialists. However, if you mean a man who despises a human being because he belongs to another race, or a man who believes that one race is inherently superior to another,then the answer is emphatically "No".

The global village

Manuel Castells: “Elites are cosmopolitan, people are local”.

Samuel Huntington: “A major gap is growing in America between its increasingly denationalised elites and its ‘thank God for America' public.”

Thomas Friedman: "When I was growing up, my parents told me, 'Finish your dinner. People in China and India are starving.' I tell my daughters, 'Finish your homework. People in India and China are starving for your job."




Friday, 20 April 2018

Antisemitic riots in England in 1947 and antisemitism in England today

Anti-Jewish feeling in England is said to have become a thing, thanks to the Labour Party and the progressive young. This article on the 1947 anti-Jewish riots is therefore now topical.

In 1947 the non-white population of Great Britain was estimated to be about twenty thousand. The Southern Irish had not yet completely ceased to be British and the largest ethnic minorities were Poles (160,000) and Jews (up to 400,000). 

Some allegations of anti-semitism (a lot in fact) boil down to the unpleasant tactic of calling people who oppose Israel's policy towards Arabs as anti-semites. But there is more to it than that as this article written by a young Labour supporter proves. As he says,

Corbyn is often described as a nice guy, and I’m sure he is in person. But it’s no coincidence that the anti-Semitism epidemic within Labour really kicked off when he became leader. He appealed to the young, and it’s the young these days who refuse to see Jews as an authentic minority. For them, Zionism is now a synonym for white supremacy, neoliberalism and western colonialism. As the years pass, the historical association changed. So now, for my generation, Jews are not oppressed. They are the oppressors.
Jews, having been hated for centuries for being Asiatics in Europe, are now, you see, hated for being Europeans in Asia.

What is also depressing is the widespread hatred of colonialism among the young, something which not only morphs into hatred of Jews but hatred of Europeans.

I have come across at least four British anti-semites over the last few years: two on the right and two on the left. Back in the 1980s in London it was an attitude I came across among some upper class people and people who aspired to mix with the upper classes.

I used to have a British Bengali Muslim friend, now dead, whom I suspected of being anti-Jewish (he was anti-Israel) and whom I probed on a whim. I asked him if, had he been in Germany in the 30s, would he have joined the Nazi Party?

His reply was:
Well, I don't really like joining movements.
I presume that he sympathised with the Nazis and it was the Jews that were his reason. 

He voted Labour and read the Guardian. He was kept for most of his life by the British state but, after his death, a common (British Indian Hindu) friend told me he was 'extremely racist'. I assume he was an anti-British racist, as well as anti-Semite, even though he always fell in love with white girls.

[Even I have finally given up on not using the word anti-semitism incorrectly. People who like Arabs are not anti-semites, of course. They may be anti-Jewish.]

Quotations

To the man-in-the-street who,
I'm sorry to say,
Is a keen observer of life,
The word intellectual suggests right away
A man who's untrue to his wife.

W H Auden



The whole gospel of Karl Marx can be summed up in a single sentence: Hate the man who is better off than you are.


Henry Hazlitt

The Iron Gates

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Warning

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The Lost Heart of Asia



I am just rereading Colin Thubron's The Lost Heart of Asia which I first read in the mid-90s, about his journey to Central Asia just after the USSR split up. 


It is quite marvellous and the perfect introduction to Uzbekistan. I wish I had reread it before my recent visit, though I did read his Shadow of the Silk Road about his return in 2006.

Uzbekistan is a place whose heart has been ripped out by communism. Lovely people but half destroyed by atheism, materialism, socialist internationalism and deracination. 

Had the khanates of Samarkand, Bokhara, Kokand and Khiva been British not Russian protectorates they might be something like the UAE now, with gold and plutonium instead of oil. Though thinking about Dubai that does not seem such an attractive idea.


For decades I only travelled in post-Communist Europe and I still find it rather depressing to go to Western Europe. All that shininess and affluence make my heart sink. Now I travel around Western Europe because it has the best monuments and to exotic places like Iraq and Mozambique, because I wanted to see the world, but I realise it is only Eastern Europe and the especially the former USSR that I really love - where people are human and normal. 

I loved Uzbekistan, as I expected to. Colin Thubron says he is in love with the whole of Asia but for some reason I am not.

China, Vietnam and Laos which still are Communist and Cambodia, which was Communist, do not greatly interest me. I wonder why not.

Is it because Uzbekistan was ruled by Russians and is therefore less Asian? No, because Indochina was ruled by the French. 


A lot of it is to do with the attraction of the Muslim world. I am a proud orientalist who thought Edward Said's critique of orientalism vapid and uninteresting. I found Pakistan more appealing than India.

The attraction of the Mohametan world and the former Soviet bloc. Former Soviet Central Asia is where the two circles overlap and it has the poetry of inaccessibility and obscurity.

"At the moment you see we have no feeling about ourselves as a nation. History is the key and the Soviets took ours away. We were sold a mass of Bolshevik stories and nothing of our own." An Uzbek talking to Colin Thubron in 1992. 


I detect faint echoes of this in present day Western Europe.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

That was the news

Some people prefer just not to follow the news. I think it's a duty. Perhaps in a macabre way it's even a dark pleasure. But no not a pleasure.


Winnie Mandela who said 
"Together, hand in hand, with our matches and our necklaces, we shall liberate this country"
died and was praised in the Western press. Necklaces meant burning people alive by putting tyres around their necks filled with petrol.


When F.W. Klerk, who dismantled apartheid and freed Nelson Mandela dies, his obituary will be unflattering.


Emmanuel Macron talked about the threat to democracy from populists, by which he meant the threat to democracy from politicians who offer to do what the public wants. He won widespread praise for this.


In England a male voice choir was ordered to admit women.


Canada announced she will no longer discriminate on the grounds of physical disability when deciding which immigrants to accept.

Tweets

Tara Ann Thieke‏ @TaraAnnThieke
Basically I don't want to hear a single supporter of the Iraq War offer their foreign policy advice without long, sustained mea culpas and explanations of why they should now be heeded. The burden of proof is on them, not on war skeptics.


Scott Greer (@ScottMGreer):
Principled conservatism: the president can drop bombs wherever he feels like but we can't deport criminal aliens

Robert Fisk's search for truth in the rubble of Douma makes him doubt whether there was a chemical attack

Please read this article. After visiting Douma and speaking to many people there, Robert Fisk doubts there was a chemical attack in Douma.

I don't have any direct information and was beginning to think the British and French governments may have been right about the Syrian government using chemical weapons, until I read this.

The truth is that I am sure the inhabitants of Eastern Ghouta , which was blockaded rather than besieged from 2013 until last year, did not want to be blockaded because they

Censorship and fake tweets


Something very strange happened to me yesterday. Can anyone give me advice?


I was told my Twitter account was being temporarily limited for 8 hours because of a tweet I sent.


This was very annoying but the tweet in question (below) is not one I sent or retweeted though it has my 'avatar'. 



Paulvew
@paulica44
@BourneWolf @AlfDubs @paullewismoney @stellacreasy @YvetteCooperMP @guardian @ThangamMP @safepassageuk @HelpRefugees @refugeecouncil @KateGreenSU Syrian refugees have already been involved in terrorist murders in Europe.

The people it was sent to are not people I know.

Sunday, 15 April 2018

“Like the Roman, I see the River Tiber foaming with blood”

"All quotations are out of context." (Enoch Powell)

Two weeks ago an extraordinary thing happened. The BBC World Service made the fiftieth anniversary of the murder of Martin Luther King its first item on the world news. 

Was the fiftieth anniversary of anyone’s death ever before, since the world began, first item on the news around the world? Lenin’s perhaps, in the Soviet bloc in 1984, but not worldwide.

Two weeks after the murder of King and fifty years ago today, Enoch Powell, a member of the British Conservative Shadow Cabinet, gave his famous and misnamed 'Rivers of Blood' speech, in which he warned in very highly coloured terms of the consequences of continued immigration from the former colonies into Great Britain. 

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Syria: the morning after the night before

It looks like America, England and France bombed locations in Syria at the cost of $240 million but no lives. Russia and Syria seem willing to take this without retaliation. This is what the ill-named Mad Dog Mattis counselled. A relief. Things can go on as before.

Donald Trump has shown he has more moral courage than President Obama - or is it immoral? His habit of threatening war with Russia in tweets certainly adds to an unpredictability factor that has a deterrent effect, on Russia and on North Korea, but he should not be acquitted of blame. 

He has intervened in a country where America has no genuine interest and this could be a precedent for further intervention. 

He was elected to keep out of foreign adventures. His supporters want him to protect America from invasion by illegal immigrants, not to protect Syrians from chlorine bombs.

Friday, 13 April 2018

Quotations



The gentleman has universal sympathies and is not partisan. The small man is partisan and does not have universal sympathies.
Confucius

The gentleman is dignified but not arrogant. The small man is arrogant but not dignified. Confucius



"I do find that the left have a tendency to suffer actual pain if exposed to non-left opinions."
Ruth Dudley Edwards

Godless communism

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This Godless Communism, 1961, a story in volume 17, issue number 2 of Treasure Chest, a monthly comic book published by the Catholic Guild in the USA from 1946 to 1972. Each issue featured several different stories intended to inspire citizenship, morality, and patriotism. 


Tweets today

Matthew Goodwin
✔@GoodwinMJ

"What is the root of the defeatism on Brexit? It is a distrust of your own people. You'd rather get in bed with other elites and liberal cosmopolitans than your own community. They want Brexit to fail, to teach 'the people' a lesson"


CJC‏ @Chris_Cheetham
“When war breaks out, people say: "It's too stupid; it can't last long." But though a war may well be "too stupid," that doesn't prevent its lasting. Stupidity has a knack of getting its way; as we should see if we were not always so much wrapped up in ourselves.” ― Albert Camus

Thursday, 12 April 2018

2 former British Ambassadors are sure that Assad is not responsible for chemical attacks

I was opposed to a strike on Syria in 2013 but have been thinking through the arguments this time. 

The 2017 strike by the Americans seemed worryingly like the start of a US intervention but in fact had no consequences apart from showing that Trump was not a Russian stooge, repairing the damage to US prestige caused when Mr. Obama did nothing after his red line was crossed and killing some innocent people. 

If Assad is responsible for using chemical weapons this time the 2016 strike did not deter him.

But is he?

I am very reluctant to think this is a trick by Western governments but is it a false flag operation by others unknown? The Saudis? 

How can we know?

But we do know this.

A former British Ambassador to Syria, Peter Ford, thinks that the Syrian government did not use chemical weapons this time. The former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, is certain that Assad is not guilty. I think two former Ambassadors saying this means the case against Assad is not proven. 


I have thought about it - we should keep our hands off Syria

[Published in Taki's Magazine.]


The BBC 5 o'clock news started with the most extraordinary and chilling words I have heard in fifty years of watching or listening to the BBC News. 
Russia and America edge closer to war over Syria.
Previously the most chilling words I had heard were 
Russian troops have entered Czechoslovakia.
I should say that I see virtually no possibility of fighting between America and Russia, but virtually is not absolutely.

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Taken today by Octav Dragan

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Today was a heavenly day.

They lie and lie about Viktor Orban


"What is happening in Hungary today can accordingly be interpreted by stating that the prevailing political leadership has today attempted to ensure that people’s personal work and interests, which must be acknowledged, are closely linked to the life of the community and the nation, and that this relationship is preserved and reinforced. In other words, the Hungarian nation is not simply a group of individuals but a community that must be organised, reinforced and in fact constructed. And so in this sense the new state that we are constructing in Hungary is an illiberal state, a non-liberal state. It does not reject the fundamental principles of liberalism such as freedom, and I could list a few more, but it does not make this ideology the central element of state organisation, but instead includes a different, special, national approach." Viktor Orbán’s Speech at the 25th Bálványos Summer Free University and Student Camp, Romania, July 30, 2014. 

The words 'illiberal state', much quoted, look very different in context. He meant conservative and national as opposed to liberal. It is clear from the context that 'iIlliberal' was a mistranslation - it is defined as

Monday, 9 April 2018

Frank Furedi: for anti-populist ideologues democracy is an afterthought

Polling booths in Hungary were kept open as voters still queued at 7pm when they were due to close



Frank Furedi says very truly:
For anti-populist ideologues democracy is an afterthought - especially in places like Hungary. Why because the people are unreliable and then to vote the wrong way. And yet they dishonestly go on about threat of dictatorships.
He has written a very good article which says everything you need to know about the election result. It includes this insight.
The emergence of Hungary as the bad boy of Europe has little to do with its supposed plunge into authoritarianism. As I argued in my book, Populism and the European Culture Wars, the pathologisation of the Orban regime is largely due to its promotion of national sovereignty and its willingness to uphold traditions and values, including those of Christianity. It is hostile to those who would dismiss the legacy of Europe’s past as the ‘bad old days’. Hungary is hated by the Western political oligarchy for the simple reason that it dares to challenge post-traditionalism, identity politics and anti-humanism.

Easter in Bucharest - acknowledgements, Octav Dragan

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What did I think of Uzbekistan?

Tashkent is a very eery, quiet place with wide roads, few cars and few pedestrians. The Bradt Guide said Samarkand was bustling but it was nothing of the sort. It too was almost deserted. Neither city had a centre or much life.

The mosques were beautiful, over-restored for the benefit of tourists but empty of worshippers. Islam I felt was repressed by the Communists much more than was Christianity in other parts of the Soviet Union and this repression continues now, though

Hungary delivers a kick to globalism

"Not in nationalism does one find the main key to the epoch of the early Soviet years, but in the destructive whirlwind of internationalism, estranged from any feeling of nationality or traditions." Solzhenitsyn

Viktor Orban and the coalition he leads has won a third landslide victory in a row in Hungary with a thirds majority in Parliament, large enough to amend the constitution. The more right-wing party Jobbik came second with 20% while the reformed Communists won only 12%.

Brussels will take it very badly. 


The untruths in the media shock me. The Daily Telegraph's Peter Forster said a few minutes ago that
Viktor Orban won another landslide with a campaign drenched in ethno-nationalism and unabashed anti-semitism.

Friday, 6 April 2018

BBC World News in Samarkand

The BBC World Service starts the world news with today being the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's murder. I find this quite bizarre. It reminds me a bit of the Soviet Union celebrating Lenin.

Now the BBC is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the sell-out of Northern Ireland. The BBC loves it but regrets that the two communities are still two communities.

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Tamburlane's tomb

I saw the tomb today of Tamburlane in Samarkand and must now read the play by Marlowe, which I can download on my kindle. 

I found the Samarkand Necropolis much more beautiful. Here among many others are buried Tamburlane's favourite two wives. He had 90 legal wives and very many concubines.  

He is responsible for the death of perhaps 17 million people, perhaps 4% of the world's population. He is naturally regarded as a very great man and a national hero of the Uzbeks, despite being no more Uzbek than Boadicea was English. Coach parties swarm converge on his tomb. 

How will Hitler be regarded in 700 years?

Nobody knows.


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Tuesday, 3 April 2018

From beyond the far distant Oxus



Alim Khan, the last Emir of Bukhara, delighted to watch his enemies boiled in oil. I am enough of a Tory to think he was slightly better than the Bolsheviks who deposed him.


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The Registan in Samarkand. Lord Curzon, as he then wasn't, thought it the noblest public square in the world. Now I can agree with him. 


Sandy Arbuthnot in Greenmantle knew some interesting places in Samarkand and Sir Fitzroy Maclean, as he then wasn't, walked here through semi desert from Bokhara, followed by an NKVD man in an ill-fitting dark suit.


I read once that Tennyson's poems are like objects that you hold in your hand and are one moment astonishing diamonds and the next pieces of coloured glass.

Khiva, Bukhara and Samarkand are like that.


Each of them in turn has impressed me at first sight as the most impressive place I ever saw in my life, but each, like some famous beauty, on closer inspection proves to have had a lot of work done to make her stunning. 


I am never sure what is centuries old, what Brezhnev era and what created under the unlamented dictator who died last year.


A German designer who comes here because Bukharan patterns are alive and German ones lifeless (at first I thought she meant patterns of life but she meant patterns) told me that if the Acropolis were in Uzbekistan it would be completed and roofed. This is exactly right. 

The Soviets were not romantics: romanticism was bourgeois and decadent.  They saw no poetry in ruins. Nor did President Karimov after he sloughed off Lenin.

It could be much much worse. They are building a huge tourist centre close to the Ark in Bukhara, the fortress from which the Emir watched his enemies killed with cruel and unusual punishments.

Already Bukhara has 150 mostly small hotels but still the number of tourists is relatively few. Samarkand and Bukhara feel remote despite the occasional coach party, often of Indians.  

Marrakech is perhaps equally beautiful but it is a tourist trap and now almost as familiar as Bournemouth or Southend. Though these things change fast.

Gertrude Bell was the first white woman to enter Samarkand but when she left she noticed advertisements for charabanc excursions.


Enoch Powell said the life of nations like the life of men is lived in the imagination. Travel is lived entirely in the imagination and being somwhere distant and little visited fires the imagination. 

Lord Byron proudly said 'I have seen the ruins of Ephesus' but so can anyone for the price of a budget flight to Ismir. Lord Curzon boasting about Samarkand still moves us to envy.

I arrived in time to see the fairly deserted Registan at Samarkand tonight at dusk, the birds making a deafening noise and the tourists gone. I envy myself.

Part of it is the name. Samarkand like Madagascar, Persia and Mozambique captivates by the sound of its very name. We visited Lalish the Yazzidi holy village because Noemi loved the name. Names contain magic.

We are not far from the Oxus here.