Pray and pay

Flat Earth

So What if one British nurse might be beheaded and another given 500 lashes on the basis of disputed confessions? Saudi Arabia is becoming more liberal in at least one important respect, according to its Defence Minister, Prince Sultan: non-Muslims will be able to practise their faiths, as long as it is in the privacy of their homes.

This assurance, given in an interview with a Saudi-owned Arabic newspaper in London, came after Prince Sultan met the Pope in Rome. Let's hope the message gets through to the Kingdom's notorious religious police, who have been known to raid homes to break up prayer meetings and confiscate Christmas trees. When Western forces were stationed in Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War, their chaplains had to be designated "welfare officers", and religious services were characterised as "welfare meetings".

Going on to Kuwait just after the Gulf hostilities, I found that Christian worship was at least possible there, although the Catholic priest had to make sure his congregation got home safely. Kuwaiti men would hang around the church and try to drag Filipina maids, who made up the majority of the congregation, into their cars. Sometimes they succeeded.

After this it was chastening to go into defeated Iraq, which is home to one of the world's oldest Christian communities and has more religious tolerance than Saudi Arabia or Kuwait. In this respect if no other, Saddam Hussein was closer to our values than our regional allies were.

Coin a Clinton

A New book called How To Talk American, published this month in the US, brings us bang up to date with current usage: I enjoyed the news that among the President's detractors in Washington, "a Clinton" is a complete policy reversal.

You can introduce modifiers, such as a "half Clinton", which is a normal policy reversal. A "full Clinton" is a policy reversal with feeling, and a "double Clinton" is a reversal followed by a denial of the reversal.

It also appears that murdering your spouse is known as an "Alaska divorce", but what struck a curious linguistic chord was the jargon surrounding the American obsession with permutations of coffee.

A "double no fun" is a double decaf latte, and "thunder thighs" is a double tall mocha with full-fat milk and extra whipped cream). This link between coffee and sex appeal is reflected in Cantonese slang, where, I was recently informed, "decaffeinated" means a flat-chested girl.

Ring of steal

I Thought Hungarians were the people who went into a revolving door behind you and emerged in front, but clearly they are not all so sharp. A Hungarian burglar in Belgium broke into a sports club, and decided to call his girlfriend in Budapest while he stripped the premises.

He even took the phone with him when he left, but a month later the bill arrived at the sports club. The woman was traced through the Budapest number, and that led to her boyfriend.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
love + sex
Voices
A propaganda video shows Isis forces near Tikrit
voicesAdam Walker: The Koran has violent passages, but it also has others that explicitly tells us how to interpret them
News
people
Sport
football
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Outbound Sales Executive - B2B

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A great opportunity has arisen ...

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Associate

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time and Part time positio...

Ashdown Group: IT Manager - Salesforce / Reports / CRM - North London - NfP

£45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and reputable Not for Profit o...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger & Credit Control Assistant

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Ledger & Credit Control...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn