Wednesday, January 29, 2003

Random quotation of today

[From a letter to his wife Dora] Perhaps the absence of feminine society is also at times more tiring than one imagines. I need a woman to bring out the best in me. However I am advised that in Paradise I shall have 70 houris all to myself including if desired one of my wordly wives. In the circumstances I have not a wide field of choice, but it may flatter you to know that on mature consideration I would like you to share the honour with the other 69.

H. St. John Philby, December 2, 1930

Behold the gallantry and charm of a fresh convert to Wahhabism.

Philby's biography does make for fascinating reading at the moment, as he was an influential dark horse in the formation of the modern Middle East after WWI. Particularly singular was his instant infatuation with Ibn Saud. But austere and brutal Arab leaders seem to exert a continuing influence on westerners disposed to treachery.