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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Executive

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An On-line Sales & Customer Ser...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Assistant - Fixed Term Contract - 6 Months

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the largest hospitality companies...

Recruitment Genius: Electricians - Fixed Wire Testing

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As a result of significant cont...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£16575 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An excellent opportunity is ava...

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with excess, cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings