I’m just back from a few days in the north of Italy, in the mountains above Lake Como. It’s an extraordinary spot. On Thursday evening we walked up a mountain side in the twilight until we were above the snowline. We were rewarded witha close-up view of a magnificent wild boar, big and black against the snow.

My many avid readers will have noticed an absence of posts for quite a well and all I can say is that even Secretaries General suffer from IT problems occasionally. Fear not! I have scripted quite a few posts and will start posting them just as soon as….

Stop press (9 November)! I have just found a wonderful Flaubert quotation that sums up the region well: ‘tous les sentiments de la nature s’y trouvent réunis et le grand prédomine.’