19 July 2014

What Germans do worst Some things Germans aren’t very good at: — Making reliable car engines. According to a survey by Warranty Direct last year, Audi came bottom, BMW seventh from bottom and Volkswagen… Read more

(Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty)

12 July 2014

Public benefit Public sector unions held a strike over pay. How well are public-sector workers paid compared with their counterparts in the private sector? — Comparing jobs like for like,… Read more


5 July 2014

All must have prizes Paul Pugh, the £104,000-a-year chief executive of the Passport Office, was nominated for ‘leader of the year’ in the government’s Investors in People Awards, in spite… Read more

28 June 2014

Green wings It was revealed that Pascal Husting, Greenpeace’s international programme director, commutes 250 miles by air from his home in Luxembourg to his office in Amsterdam several times a… Read more

21 June 2014

The not-so-great charter David Cameron wants every child to be taught about Magna Carta. Some bits he might want to leave out: — ‘If one who has borrowed from the… Read more

14 June 2014

Old world Brazil has struggled to get ready for the World Cup, even though it hosted it before, in 1950. Some oddities of that tournament: — There was no final,… Read more

7 June 2014

Game of thrones The Spanish king, Juan Carlos, announced that he is to abdicate in favour of his son, Prince Felipe. Is the Queen becoming unusual among Europe’s remaining monarchs… Read more

31 May 2014

Escape committees An LSE/Institute for Government report estimated the cost of Scottish independence at £2.7 billion, a sum arrived at by multiplying the 180 bodies which would need to be… Read more

24 May 2014

Parliamentary privilege Some facts and figures about the European Parliament, according to the parliament: — The parliament annually costs €3.10 per citizen in EU member states (compared with €7.30 for… Read more

17 May 2014

Memory holes The EU wants to introduce a law which would force Google to delete from its searches old information that individuals and organisations would prefer forgotten. Some things that… Read more

The Bench

10 May 2014

Judges in jail Barrister and part-time judge Constance Briscoe was jailed for 16 months for perverting the course of justice in charges related to the Chris Huhne affair. She is… Read more

3 May 2014

Animal spirit A labrador blown up with her handler while sniffing for bombs in Afghanistan in 2008 became the 64th animal to be awarded the PDSA’s Dickin medal for ‘gallantry’… Read more

19 April 2014

Done a runner Mami Konneh Lahun, a 24-year-old athlete from Sierra Leone, went missing after finishing as the 20th-placed woman in the London Marathon. She is not the first athlete… Read more

12 April 2014

Flat pack Some facts about Glasgow’s Red Road Flats, built in 1968, which are to be demolished as part of the opening ceremony for the Commonwealth Games. — The original… Read more

29 March 2014

Escapology This week marked the 70th anniversary of the Great Escape, when 76 Allied servicemen tunnelled out of Stalag Luft III prisoner of war camp in Poland. Fifty of them… Read more

22 March 2014

Plane vanished Some other planes, besides Flight MH370, which have disappeared without trace: — A Boeing 727 cargo plane that was being prepared for a flight in Luana, Angola, on… Read more

15 March 2014

Years of war Imaginative souls have tried to compared the situation in Ukraine with that which preceded the first world war 100 years ago. Are years ending in 14 especially… Read more

8 March 2014

The best places to open a brothel The Commons all-party group on prostitution has called for a Scandinavian-style law where selling sex would not be illegal but buying it would… Read more

1 March 2014

Palace coups The people of Ukraine enjoyed a peek inside President Yanukovych’s palace, complete with petting zoo and collection of motorcycles. Who has the biggest and best presidential palace? —… Read more

15 February 2014

A kamikaze pilot at 80 The Japanese city of Minami-Kyushu was attacked for wanting to add the letters of 1,036 kamikaze pilots who died on suicide missions in the second… Read more

8 February 2014

Our first winter Hopes will not be high for a big haul of British medals in Sochi, but we have not always been Cinderellas at winter sports. In the first… Read more

1 February 2014

The political life of Walter Mitty Nigel Farage attacked the ‘Walter Mittys’ in his own party. A few of the many uses of James Thurber’s daydreaming character in politics: —… Read more

25 January 2014

One for the road Road safety campaigners were angered by the opening of the first pub at a motorway service station, on the M40 in Buckinghamshire. — Drink-driving campaigns pre-date… Read more

18 January 2014

Fat chances The National Obesity Forum said that Britain is reaching a ‘doomsday scenario’ where half the population is obese. What happened to previous government campaigns to tackle obesity? —… Read more

11 January 2014

The test of a wave Waves measuring 27ft from peak to trough were seen off Land’s End as the stormy weather continued. How do these compare with the highest waves… Read more