FLAT EARTH

English rose in command

WHENEVER the Bosnians - Serb or Muslim - screamed blue murder about General Rose, former commander of UN forces in Bosnia, they must secretly have been relieved that it was only Sir Michael in charge and not his wife, who used to turn up in Sarajevo from time to time to keep an eye on things. Lady Rose is one of those formidable county wives with a cut-glass accent and a certain light in her eyes boding ill for journalists, warlords and the rest of the riffraff who comprise Bosnia's danse macabre.

Peter Jennings of the American ABC television network was once surprised to find her sitting in on an interview with her husband, and interjecting along the lines of: "Nonsense. You can't ask him that!" And the general himself certainly knows who's boss. Seen dining together recently in Sarajevo, the couple had some slight divergence of opinion. "That's enough, Michael. Now shut up," rang out the voice of command. "Yes dear," replied the hammer of the Serbs, meekly falling silent.

Wingding done went

EVEN by the boisterous standards of criminal hearings, it was a tricky moment. Criminal lawyers, of course, have chosen a difficult branch of the profession. At law school, I remember, we were warned that they tended to pick up the bad language and dress sense of their clients. Then there's all the effort of training the defendant to look respectable - or at least not glower too terribly at the jury. And often the co-operation is just not there. In Pennsylvania last week, for example, just as A Charles Peruto Jr, was persuading the judge to grant bail to his client Howard "Wingding" Jones, citing the excellence and steadiness of his character, Wingding took off, out the back door and away. Even Mr Peruto had to admit ruefully that this did not aid his argument. Wingding was spotted first on the rooftops and then minutes afterwards under a pile of mattresses in a department store basement, before recapture.

Ram raiders

NOW, a serious business story from the Himalayas. Shepherds in the Changthang valley have upset the state-run wool board, which every year buys their output of pashmina wool - a marvellous substance, so fine that shawls woven from it can be drawn through a ring, which makes every bride in India yearn to own one. Last year the board bought 30,420lb of pashmina. This year it bought 4.4lb.

Even for a state-run business, this is not very good. But the officials have an excuse. All the wool, it seems, has gone to China, since the revival of the "ancient trade with the Chinese for tea, bricks and electronic items".

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