The emperor was bald

Posted on | February 22, 2011 | No Comments

The sight of Libya’s madman-in-chief muttering nonsense from beneath an umbrella brought to mind many images of world leaders wielding other famous parasols, such as this beaut in which aides of Ukrainian Speaker Volodymyr Litvyn used brollies to deflect eggs being hurled at them. Though the umbrella is folded, this is a nice story out of the UK about how Hitler used to mock Neville Chamberlain for his trademark rain shield. This sudden absorption with umbrellas being displacement activity on a deadline day, I leave it to others to postpone some immediate chore by instead looking for file photos of famous umbrella moments. Ah, but not before adding this bit of umbrella Wiki-trivia that “in the sculptures at Nineveh the parasol appears frequently. Austen Henry Layard gives a picture of a bas-relief representing a king in his chariot, with an attendant holding a parasol over his head. It has a curtain hanging down behind, but is otherwise exactly like those in use today. It is reserved exclusively for the monarch (who was bald), and is never carried over any other person.”

An Arabist writes: “Nobody cares, but the scholarly way of spelling his name would be Qadhdhafi. He can speak English but refuses to and takes some kind of perverse pleasure in encouraging weird spellings. BTW the name means something like ‘flinger, kicker, shover, discarder.’ ” This comment came via Facebook, to which I responded: He is well named. I updated the post with your remarks. I regret my flippancy about this because however you spell his name, he’s a monster. I cannot begin to appreciate the pain he has inflicted in Libya. I do remember vividly picking up the phone at the Independent’s feature desk and taking a message for our obit editor from Rita Cadman, mother of Bill Cadman, a talented sound engineer killed on Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie. He has caused many mothers to sound just as anguished. May he rot in hell and take his umbrella with him.


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