Democracyâ€™s jet-lagged volunteers stumble out of Simon Bolivar international airport into the full glare of the Venezuelan sun. The two security men, locals employed by the mission, hurry us onto the waiting buses, eyes raking the space like Bren guns.
The speech reworked familiar themes of a degenerate and imperialist west trying to force its values on Africa. "Perhaps a new kind of devil found in Britain is spreadingâ€¦ The devilish system in which a man marries another man makes them disregard natureâ€¦This is a rotten culture."
Two teams of black young men are playing football on a Saturday afternoon. Suddenly a group of spectators yell out as they recognise a player and begin talking urgently into their mobile phones.
It has been raining for two weeks in Harare, with only an occasional respite for the city's graceful avenues to drip dry. For a country that has gone without heavy rain for several years, this is a turnaround.
"I am a woodlander; I have sap in my veins," Roger Deakin writes. The late author is on a mission to get to the heart of something huge and elemental - to understand not just trees, but the very essence of wood.
The sleek, cramped Eurostar glides out of St Pancras at lunchtime; a couple of hours, a nip across Paris and weâ€™re at Bercy, boarding the Palatino. The name conjures up in my mind an age of glamorous European sleepers but the train doesnâ€™t live up to its heritage.
Britain's equivalent of Oktoberfest comes far closer to being a real beerfest, although it, too, is built on a glaring contradiction.
Stress is a word we throw around like confetti, yet no one knows or cares much what it means. "It's like defining sex, it's pretty impossible," says the managing director of a company selling stress tests.
The image went round the world: the body of Terry Ford, a white farmer killed by Zimbabwe's notorious "war veterans", being guarded by his Jack Russell terrier. For many the sight symbolised the country's descent into tyranny under Robert Mugabe.
I remember the radio broadcast - three bodies found in the Channel, a yacht missing. But I only took a close interest a few days later when it was reported that accident investigators were examining the hull of the P&O ferry Pride of Bilbao.