Rain in St Malo

St Malo

COCO the dog is a trifle wet. His mistress has taken him on his morning walk and, because it is raining, chained him to a banister rail until he dries and can resume his usual place on a settee. For most of his life the boxer, grave and dignified, has sat around the lobby of the hotel and watched the tourists come and go. They pet him still.

Read more: Rain in St Malo

On a Scottish puffer in Connemara

IN the hard world of small farming little goes to waste. Nothing is discarded until it has yielded its full economic potential. Nowhere is this truth more apparent than in the rocky, largely barren lands of Connemara where in the valleys and on the coast there are fertile patches of hayfields and pasture where cattle graze in drowsy ignorance of falling beef prices.

The hay has been mown; some of the old-timers still laboriously cut reeds which they use to give the stacks a waterproof crown. But most people find it handier to cover them with impermeable plastic coalbags, which they secure with stones suspended on twine. Cars are run in to the ground.

Read more: On a Scottish puffer in Connemara

Gitobu Imanyara

EVERY so often you meet a person whose courage draws you up short and makes you ashamed of your petty grievances. Sometimes the courage is private and personal; sometimes it is in the public domain. In Budapest earlier this month I had the great privilege of meeting an African who has twice come within an inch of death in the cause of freedom.

I would like to be able to claim Gitobu Imanyara as a journalist, for he is the editor of the Nairobi Law Monthly. Indeed, he is a journalist in that his magazine goes far beyond the bounds of normal legal commentary and is detested by the Kenyan regime for its exposes of corruption, brutality and malpractice. But Imanyara is really a lawyer.

Read more: Gitobu Imanyara

A tea party in Hungary

IT is a sunny spring afternoon in Buda. At the British Embassy they are giving a tea party. The guests, the Brits attending a conference in the town, are ushered through the magnificent old mansion, dating from the great days of the Austro-Hungarian empire. They admire the circular marble staircase and the Bluthner grand piano on which recitals are given from time to time.

Read more: A tea party in Hungary

Spy Kim Philby - distrusted by his Russian masters

NO THEME has preoccupied post-war British writers more than that of betrayal. It is arguable that Le Carre is our major post-war novelist and the figure of the spy is pervasive in the literature of our time. As in Le Carre's An Honourable Schoolboy, he is a metaphor for more general infidelities in an age that has seen the rapid loosening of marital and familial ties.

The figure of Kim Philby, in particular, continues to haunt the imagination. His extraordinary career has already been thoroughly documented, by the journalist Phillip Knightley and others, and most people are reasonably familiar with it in outline.

A convinced Marxist, he was recruited as a KGB agent while at Cambridge. He entered the British foreign service in 1941 and was first secretary at the British embassy in Washington from 1949 to 1951. After the defection to Moscow of Burgess and Maclean, his friendship with Burgess led to an investigation. Although nothing could be proved against him he was forced to resign. He went to the Middle East as Observer correspondent until he disappeared from Beirut in 1963, surfacing soon afterwards in Moscow as a KGB major-general and confirming that he had been the ''third man'' in the Burgess and Maclean case.

Read more: Spy Kim Philby - distrusted by his Russian masters