DEADLINE FOR COMPETITION ENTRIES:
Midnight on March 26 2009 (as shown by the timings given below for comments)
This is a competition that was launched without a prize. It now has three, details of which have now appeared: three copies, courtesy of Continuum Books, of French Cinema: From Its Beginnings to the Present, by Rémi Fournier Lanzoni.
I had to find some way of marking the 200,000th visit to Salut! since it staggered to its feet from the ashes of my Daily Telegraph career at the beginning of Oct 2006. The magic figure was reached during the morning of March 11.
There is nothing extraordinary about the number of hits. It wouldn't surprise me to hear that there are sites that receive as many in half an hour as I have mustered in two-and-a-half years.
But it's a respectable tally all the same. I do relatively little to drum up interest, and some weeks add very little new to the site itself. Time gets in the way of good intentions.
Whether that will change much is open to question. I am leaving Abu Dhabi towards the end of this month and will be back in Le Lavandou not long after that.
The UAE has been an experience that I would not have missed for anything. Helping to launch a newspaper in Abu Dhabi has been a mighty challenge and, for all the hard work, great fun. Add to that the opportunity to explore countries I might never have visited and you begin to understand what the past 16/17 months have meant.
My association with The National will continue. As a contributing editor, I will still write my weekly column on the use of English, and - as it says on the Salut! tin - more besides. But while I will have plenty of commitments to compete with work on my websites, the sun has yet to set on the Salut! empire.
Oh, and the competition. Just write something here. Anything decent will do. What you like about Salut!, what you don't. Whether the postings on my travels around the Middle East and Indian subcontinent have been interesting and informative; whether anything I've written inspired anyone to plan a trip to Oman maybe, or Petra.
It is completely up to you. I will apply the usual arbitrary Salut! rules and decide whose contributions are witty, wise or incisive enough to merit the prizes.
The three winners will be announced soon after my return to the UK on March 27, and the books should be on their way before the end of the month.