Maintaining The Berne Rate

Sorry, sorrowful Switzerland. This pious country, which has been supplying the Vatican with its psychedelic army for the last five centuries, has been forced to take heed of the words of Handel's Messiah (with apologies to Isaiah): 'Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be laid low.' After hundreds of years  where, thanks…

The sky’s the limit

Winding my way up the world from Western Australia last week, the doors of my mind opened on a vision of Elisha Otis . Elisha Who? Who Otis? Who Who? Odds on, anyone reading this blog has seen the name at least once in the past 24 hours. At the New York World's Fair in…

Georgia on my mind

When, on August 16,  I saw the announcement that Bert Lance had died, memories of the disappointments of that period of my life known as "coming-of-age" came flooding back. Lance was a Georgian banker (born 82 years ago a little closer to Atlanta than Tbilisi) who took the train up from the South to Washington when Jimmy (pronounced Jimmuh)…

The lion that squeaked

We all remember those excruciatingly painful dance sequences in end of year school plays. As a long-in-the-tooth tweed jacketed teacher attacked the untuned keys of the upright piano while simultaneously pumping furiously at the worn pedals, budding Nureyevs and Fonteyns would take to the stage. With eyes adamantly fixed on their neighbours the children would twirl to the right and…

World without borders

Blitzing Mannheim last Tuesday in advance of a meeting the following morning, I soon tired of the centre of town with its Water Tower, Paradeplatz  and street names like P3 and Q5. Settling  into my hotel room, I turned on the TV. Confronted by Mary Poppins dubbed into German - at least in British war movies they made the Germans speak…