Wry & Dry

Follow the money...

Ever alert to readers' desires, W&D can advise for this week:

Follow the money 4


[1]  Tomorrow is the 400th anniversary of the death of The Bard.  And so W&D couldn't help but squeeze in a famous line: "Now is the winter of our discontent/ Made glorious summer by this son of York".  Shakespeare, Richard III, opening lines.

[2]  At Olympia.  And not Mount Olympus, which is kilometres away.  

[3]  Amerigo Vespucci was an Italian explorer of the 16th century who first demonstrated that Brazil and the West Indies did not represent Asia's outskirts.  He didn't land in what is now the United States of America.  It was Martin Waldseemüller, a German cartographer, who, in 1507, produced a map on which he named the new continent America after the feminine Latin version of Vespucci's first name.

On that basis, perhaps it should be the United States of Andrea...

[4]  If readers wish to understand a little more of why Russia is like it is, there can be no better start than this book.  Montefiore's sweep is detailed and beautifully written.  Consider this exquisitely awful picture of the Battle of Borodino (Napoleon v. Alexander I & Kutuzov), the bloodiest single day of warfare before the First World War: “The fighting, often hand to hand, bayonet to bayonet, was primal in its savagery, and the firing power of the cannonades of a thousand guns on a tiny battlefield, packed with men and animals, in the flamboyant uniforms of its time, turned it into the most gorgeously dressed abattoir in history.”

The butchery was transferred to the masters of a new system. Under Boris Yeltsin, in one of those brief interludes of liberalism in Russian society, the bodies of the last tsar (Nicholas II) and his family were exhumed from their grisly graves in Ekaterinburg, re-interred (in St. Catherine's Chapel in Peter and Paul Cathedral, St Petersburg) and the true story of their murder (the centenary of which is next year - expect a BBC mini-series) was told.

Is it any wonder that Russians continue to struggle with the present, given its past?