IT'S NO great surprise that Jerusalem has turned its face against Michelangelo's David. The city of Florence offered a full-size marble copy of the statue as a gift, at first accepted, but then the prospect of constantly bumping into a 14ft uncircumcised Italian proved too much for the city's Arab and Orthodox Jewish residents. What is odd, though, is that they have accepted instead, on the grounds that it is "clothed", a copy of a bronze David by Andrea del Verrocchio. I wonder if that is a good idea. A leading art historian tells me that the Verrochio's clothing consists of a "girdle, plunging to the crotch", and the general demeanour of the youth, with his hand on hip, is "effeminate, and, well, louche".
Mladic in Wonderland
A FOREST glade. A fat man lifting dumbbells. In the distance the sound of cannons. This scene would perhaps be funny or ridiculous or even have a surreal Tenniel-like quality, except that it was not a Tenniel drawing but an image transmitted by Bosnian Serb television on Thursday. The fat man was not Tweedledum, but the Serb general Ratko Mladic. There is no Tweedledee. Mladic was filling in time lifting weights while he waited for a delegation of Muslims - thin men - from Zepa who came humbly negotiating for their lives.
Many worse things have happened in Bosnia, of course, but they are not boastfully broadcast to the world.
AN IMPORTANT technological development at Manila airport, where the baggage X-ray machine has been wonderfully redesigned so that when bags containing large amounts of cash go in they never come out. One traveller, Isaac David, an official of an engineering consulting firm, complained that his bag containing travel documents and $5,000 vanished in the machine last Tuesday. Meanwhile a security officer manning the walk-through metal detector delayed him, so that by the time he began to agitate aloud for his possessions, a cascade of new bags confused the issue.The vanishing - the sixth reported in a few weeks - caused Mr David to cancel a trip to Vietnam, where he was to discuss a multi-million-dollar dam project.
Manila airport is already notorious for lost luggage, pickpockets, robberies and fantastically ambitious taxi drivers. It is probably the only airport in the world where even standing at the urinal is a problem - shoeshine boys, mesmerised by the opportunities of fabulous wealth suggested by the sight of foreign leather, swoop in pairs towards your feet and begin buffing furiously. This, I can report, is rather distracting.
You'll go blind!
A REPORT from our Washington correspondent confirms the theory that too much sex can harm your eyesight. Doctors at the Pittsburgh Eye and Ear Institute say sudden spikes in blood pressure associated with orgasm can rupture delicate blood vessels inside the eye, causing haemorrhages. A study examined six sufferers of this condition. Two of them, it says, had been engaged in "autoerotic activity", the rest had been with partners. "Perhaps significantly," it warns, "none of those with partners were married to the person they were with." But in all cases, it adds soothingly, the loss of sight was in one eye only.