Thursday, March 01, 2007

Sir Mark Sykes

Yesterday's Guardian had a report by Clare Dyer on a new attempt by scientists to understand bird flu:
A celebrated politician and diplomat who played a key role in the carve-up of the Middle East after the first world war is to be called on to perform a final service which could reap incalculable benefits for global health.

Nearly 90 years after his death, researchers hoping to find the best way of treating the predicted bird flu pandemic have been given the go-ahead to exhume the body of Sir Mark Sykes, 6th baronet and co-author of the Sykes-Picot agreement, which dismantled the Ottoman empire.
The point being that, as a wealthy man, Sykes was buried in a lead-lined coffin and therefore his remains are likely to be better preserved and offer more useful samples to researchers.

But what really caught the eye was the potted biography of Sykes that followed Dyer's report. Martin Wainwright wrote:
In shorthand, Sir Tatton Benvenuto Mark Sykes was the man who carved up Turkey and caught bird flu, but his 39-year life remains a monument to how much can be achieved in a short time: he was a senior diplomat, MP, father of six, Boer war commander, author of four books and manager of the biggest estate in Yorkshire.

In between times, he created singular sculptures, commissioned the finest Turkish room in the country at his stately home of Sledmere in the Wolds, and maintained a pile of huge Victorian churches donated to nearby hamlets by his eccentric father, also Sir Tatton. Sledmere burned down in 1911, when his father refused to take action until he had finished his pudding.

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