20 July 2013

Running scared Three participants were gored at the Pamplona bull run. The event has reputation for danger, but how risky is it? —Since 1910, 15 deaths have been recorded, the… Read more

13 July 2013

Family games Andy Murray said that as a child he lived in the shadow of his elder brother Jamie, who was then thought the better tennis player. Some other sporting… Read more

6 July 2013

A place of greater safety CIA whistleblower Edward Snowden has claimed asylum in 21 countries. How do whistleblowers fare in some of them? China: 5 journalists killed since 1992. One… Read more

29 June 2013

Field reports The Glastonbury Festival is once again being held at Michael Eavis’s dairy farm at Pilton, just outside the Somerset town. The venues of some other famous festivals: —… Read more

22 June 2013

Painting the town The tarting-up of Northern Irish villages on the route between Belfast International airport and Lough Erne, the resort which hosted the G8 summit, has been likened to… Read more

15 June 2013

Souls on ice Three Oxford academics have revealed that they have paid to become cryonically preserved at death in the hope of one day being revived. A selection of the… Read more

8 June 2013

Spy society High on the agenda when Barack Obama and Chinese president Xi Jinping meet in California will be US accusations that China is stealing US intellectual property. Yet the… Read more

1 June 2013

Minority sports The annual cheese-rolling race took place at Cooper’s Hill, Gloucestershire, won by an American who had flown over for the occasion. Some more minority sports: Chessboxing Contestants compete… Read more

25 May 2013

Gnome territory This year only, garden gnomes are allowed at the Chelsea Flower Show. Some other places to see them: Germany. The home of the gnome, where the first batch… Read more

18 May 2013

The first filibuster A bill for an in-out referendum on the EU seems doomed to be killed off by a ‘filibuster’ — a campaign by opponents to keep on talking… Read more

11 May 2013

Four kinds of nonsense Lord Lawson accused Nick Clegg of talking ‘poppycock’ on Europe. What are we really saying when we accuse people of talking nonsense? Poppycock From old Dutch… Read more

4 May 2013

Dots on the map An Edinburgh man is planning to stay 60 days on Rockall, a rocky island in the Atlantic 200 miles off the Western Isles — the longest-ever… Read more

27 April 2013

Dyeing and dying A teacher in Harrow complained to his MP that he had been banned from marking pupils’ work in red ink in case it upset them. Some origins… Read more

6 April 2013

Googling lessons Delegates at the National Union of Teachers conference complained about Michael Gove’s ‘pub quiz’ curriculum and suggested that children didn’t need to learn facts any more because they… Read more

30 March 2013

Economic migrants David Cameron announced that the government would make it harder for migrants to claim benefits, NHS treatment and social housing. Do migrants make a positive contribution to the… Read more

23 March 2013

Big ask Birmingham Council asked residents, in a survey on wheelie bins, whether they were gay or bisexual. Some more nosey questions asked by councils: — Is your gender identity… Read more

16 March 2013

Minority report The Queen signed a new Commonwealth charter denouncing ‘discrimination of all kinds’, leading campaigners to suggest that she was supporting gay marriage. Peter Tatchell asserted that 6 per… Read more

2 March 2013

Political joke The Five Star Movement, led by comedian Beppe Grillo, won 26% of the vote in the Italian general election. Comedian John O’Farrell competed as Labour’s candidate in the… Read more

23 February 2013

Dyeing and dying A teacher in Harrow complained to his MP that he had been banned from marking pupils’ work in red ink in case it upset them. Some origins… Read more

16 February 2013

Takes all sports The government is to introduce a new strategy for sport in schools. To what educational ends can sport be used? — ‘Using Sport to Tackle Youth Crime’… Read more

2 February 2013

A desert mystery Insurgents were reported to have burned tens of thousands of ancient manuscripts in Timbuktu as French troops surrounded the city. Timbuktu has long been a byword for… Read more

26 January 2013

Four sworn Barack Obama achieved a remarkable feat last week: he managed to take the oath of office for a fourth time. Under the 22nd Amendment to the US constitution,… Read more

19 January 2013

Equine dining Horsemeat was found in hamburgers sold by Tesco, among others. Why did eating horses become a taboo? — In the 8th century Pope Gregory III instructed St Boniface,… Read more

12 January 2013

Welfare state The government was attacked for wanting to increase benefits by less than inflation. How have benefits changed in real terms since they were introduced? — Unemployment benefit began… Read more

5 January 2013

The Seacole empire Education Secretary Michael Gove says he wants to rewrite the national curriculum in history to concentrate on figures such as Cromwell and Churchill instead of Mary Seacole.… Read more