Flat Earth: Beloved country

TALKING of tears, there was something quite moving about the report last week that Nelson Mandela cannot shed any, because of injuries caused while breaking rocks in the Robben Island prison quarry. He suffers from keratoconjunctivitis sicca, his tear glands having been burnt out by the alkaline nature of the limestone on the island. 'Therefore,' said his surgeon, 'the president has no tears.'

This has almost the ring of one of Shakespeare's last plays, The Winter's Tale, say. Usually in history it is the perpetrators of injustice who are incapable of weeping, not the victims.