Children are particularly at risk as the thick hollow stems and broad fan-like leaves lend themselves to a variety of games.
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But he also had the paradoxical good fortune to live in evil times. There could be no accommodation with fascism – it was either resistance or capitulation, and everything he wrote from the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War until his death was infused with the same urgent imperative to resist totalitarianism. Of course, some of it is absurdly overstated. Can he really have believed that "only revolution can save England, that has been obvious for years... I dare say the London gutters will have to run with blood," in 1940? But evil times force harsh judgments.
· The genius of George Orwell George Orwell died on January 21 1950. Jeremy Paxman pays tribute to one of England's greatest writers