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I have never seen a bride walk up the aisle faster than Ayaan Hirsi Ali. She said afterwards that it was nerves propelling her. But it was more obviously happiness. The memorial chapel at Harvard was the setting for a crowd of us to gather, on September 10, to witness her marriage to Niall Ferguson. With stock markets tumbling and newspapers predicting terrorist attacks, the union of these two equal and unequalled people, united us in joy. And it reminded me, as did the funeral of a friend a few weeks earlier, that even for atheists when it comes to life's major milestones the Church still does it best.

Drinking and dancing followed in Boston. I joined what I thought was the receiving line for the bride and groom and lingered a while before discovering it was a greeting line for Henry Kissinger. The post-dinner dance floor would have been the Guardian's worst nightmare.

Ten years ago, when Ayaan first began to emerge and change the world around her, many people feared a bad ending. But she faced down the death-cult in the best possible way, not with a happy ending, but with a new and happy beginning. No one deserves it more.

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December 15th, 2011
2:12 PM
Sad that there are, as in your report, hardly any bookshops left in America (or for that matter the UK) but it is good news for us here as a company called 'Pay Less Books' sells books, albeit second-hand ones from the US at an obscenely, dirt cheap price. So it looks like that there will be a never ending supply of books from the US for the bibliophiles here.

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