Ten years ago I read and enjoyed John Berendt's Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil, so when I found a copy of his long awaited second book on my bedside when staying up in Fife last week I was really delighted; and fromthe moment I started reading The City of Falling Angels I was hooked. It was all I could do to stop myself booking a plane ticket and departing for Venice there and then. Many, many books have been written about Venice (or are set in Venice), travelogues, serious tomes on Venitian art and architecture, history, as well as crime, romantic and literary fiction. Berendt has written about Venice from a very different perspective. He writes -with a light, slightly gossipy style- about the Venetians, and through them the reader gets a wonderful portrait of this magical city at the beginning of the 21stC. He has used the burning of La Fenice , Venice's famous opera theatre, the criminal investigations which followed the fire, the convoluted machinations between various groups to get the theatre rebuilt, and the rebuilding itself, as the backbone of his book. Woven around that strand are encounters with an amazing cast of characters, The Rat Man, Count Volpi, Olga Rudge (Ezra Pound's widow, the feuding brothers, and any number of Contessas and Marcheses, not to mention the various English and American expats who have made Venice their home. His descriptions are so vivid that you can smell the damp, the hot chocolate at Florians, the seafood and the sewers. You can see the hoards of tourists who are the life-blood of the Venetian economy and paradoxically are destroying the city by their very numbers. You watch with amazed amusement as the various "Save" Venice organisations jockey for pre-eminance and prestige. This is a wonderful book, and I had to keep reminding myself that it is Non-Fiction, and that ALL the characters are real people and use their real names. If you are going to visit Venice for the first time, read this book; if you already know and love Venice, read this book; if you are an armchair traveller, read this book. You WILL enjoy it!
What is the latest and most desirable fashion accessory for women who must have it all?
A Birkin handbag by Hermes (a mere snip at $50,000)? Or a whopping big diamond ring?
No - it is a cute little black baby from an impoverished African country.
Conspicuous compassion is all the rage, Angelina Jolie does it, and now Madonna has just picked up a toddler from
Malawi has a law preventing out of country adoption of children, but faced with the opportunity of having a wealthy western pop star giving a large amount of money to an orphanage in the country they have speedily changed things so that she can adopt this baby boy. Of course if you or I were to go to
Let’s think about the orphanage she is having built, will it be run by the Malawians according to their cultural beliefs and norms? or by one of the many NGOs who have laboured long and hard against poverty, disease and deprivation in central
As far as this particular child is concerned, yes, Madonna and her husband are wealthy enough to support him; they may also be emotionally determined to love him, warts and all, for the rest of his life. All well and good, but why do it at all – she has no links to Malawi, she already has children, she has not stumbled on a child in immenant danger of death and saved him; she has decided to make a gesture, and the spin off is she will look caring and compassionate – ahh.
However that may not necessarily be what is best for this child. He will be with a family who are racially, culturally and economically far removed from his own. Where will he feel he belongs? He will never fit back in to his own community in
I am not a particularly frugal person, in fact my DH is always yelling at me to switch lights off, but I do hate to waste food in the kitchen. So what do you do when you have some bananas which have all become over-ripe simultaneously? (silly me, I put them in a fruit bowl with apples) I like my bananas verging on the greenish side, so the only way to use them up before they become totally vrot is to make something with them. This recipe was originally from The Times Calendar Cookbook by Katie Stewart, and when the kids were at primary school and took packed lunches, I used to make it regularly. In fact, like many of my family recipes, I used to make a double or treble quantity and freeze the extra loaf. [BTW a treble quantity will fill 2x medium (20x12x8cm) loaf tins.]
Pre-heat oven to 180°C
Pre-heat oven to 180°C
Grease and base line a small (18x10x5cm) loaf tin
175g self-raising flour
½ level teaspoon salt
1 level teaspoon mixed spice
100g castor sugar
50g chopped walnuts
2 medium sized ripe bananas
1 large egg
25g melted butter
Sift flour, salt, and mixed spice into a bowl. Stir in the sugar and walnuts. Peel the bananas and mash to a purée with a fork. Add to the dry ingredients along with the egg and melted butter. Using a wooden spoon stir to blend the ingredients and then beat thoroughly to mix.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared loaf tin. Spread the mixture evenly – make a slight indentation in the center to compensate for the rising process. Place the tin in the center of the pre-heated moderate oven and bake for 1 hour. Turn out on to a rack and leave until cold. Keeps well for several days in an airtight container. Freezes well.
Serve sliced and buttered.