Is Conor McGregor the Irish Trump?

The flamboyant, ridiculous mixed martial arts fighter Conor McGregor is considering a run for the Irish presidency. ‘Potential competition if I run,’ he tweeted yesterday, along with a picture of Gerry Adams, Bertie Ahern and Enda Kenny, the three septuagenarian current favourites for the job. ‘Each with unbreakable ties to their individual parties politics… Or me, 35. Young, active, passionate, fresh skin in the game. I listen. I support. I adapt. I have no affiliation/bias/favoritism toward any party. They would genuinely be held to account regarding the current sway of public feeling. I’d even put it all to vote. There’d be votes every week to make sure. I can fund. It

The strange life of Alvin Stardust

He had mutton chop sideburns, a vast quiff and was dressed in black leather, even down to murderers’ gloves, over which he wore enormous silver rings, which he then wiggled in a beckoning fashion while staring suggestively into the camera. Nevermind hiding behind the sofa during Dr Who – for me, in December 1973, as a six-year-old nurtured on bubblegum pop, the debut appearance on Top of the Pops of Alvin Stardust, with his rock’n’roll Child Catcher look, was the most menacing thing I had ever seen. In the 1990s he found God – at Waterloo Station apparently, a place where one might be more likely to experience a loss

The growing appeal of dreary Düsseldorf

In the cavernous basement of Bilker Bunker, a second world war air raid shelter in downtown Düsseldorf, the staff of groovy events guide the Dorf are toasting the magazine’s tenth birthday. During the war, Germans sheltered here from the RAF. Today, their descendants come here to party. With an art gallery up above and DJs down below, this labyrinthine concrete relic is a symbol of Düsseldorf’s transformation – from industrial powerhouse of the Third Reich to Germany’s hippest city. Düsseldorf has always been a wealthy city, the buckle of the German rustbelt The Dorf is the size of a slim paperback. It fits neatly into your coat pocket. It started


Tory MPs rebel over infected blood vote

It’s another bad day for Rishi Sunak. Hours after the Prime Minister discovered that he is polling worse than his short-lived predecessor Liz Truss and losing supporters to Nigel Farage’s Reform party, he has tonight had to confront a Tory rebellion. The sliver of good news for Sunak is that it has turned out to be a smaller mutiny than first thought. 23 Tory rebels, including former Welsh secretary Sir Robert Buckland, joined forces with the opposition this evening to support a Labour amendment to the Victim and Prisoners Bill – a little less than the 31 MPs who had signed the amendment before the vote. The matter concerns the contaminated

Gareth Roberts

I’ve finally given up on physical books

When I first heard about ebooks, I was horrified. Something deep within me flinched. Surely, I thought – my surface brain trying to rationalise this atavistic spasm – the tactile reality of books is an intrinsic part of the joy of books? Nowadays I only read a physical book if there really is no alternative The satisfying crack of opening up a new hardback (sorry to the timid but I love getting my thumbs in). The unmistakable aroma, from the vanilla hint of co-polymers in the freshly minted paperback to the cigar smoke and benzaldehyde in the second or possibly fourteenth-hand copy. The satisfaction of turning a page, being surprised

Why companies should ditch personality tests

An increasing number of British companies are using personality tests to hire staff. Two of the more popular personality tests are the Big Five and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). There’s just one problem and it’s a rather big one: both of these tests are utterly scientifically useless. And Brits are being hired (or not hired) based on the results of these dubious tests. Personality tests are a type of zombie falsehood. Despite their lack of scientific validity and numerous papers displaying their many failings, they just won’t die Of the two, the MBTI appears to be more popular. The assessment comprises 93 forced-choice questions. It evaluates four distinct dichotomies: extraversion versus introversion; sensing versus

The lost world of MSN Messenger

Despite only being 30, the students at the school at which I work often make me feel old. They love nothing more than testing my knowledge of their Gen-Z slang: no, I don’t know what you mean when you say Romeo is a ‘simp’ or whether Macbeth’s behaviour is ‘sus’. My average 12-year-old student is far better at IT than I am and yet they’ve never seen an iPod before. The other day, a student asked me where txt speak came from, because they didn’t realise that SMS messages had a character limit. And despite their love of Y2K music and fashion, most of my students have never heard of

Ireland can land the Coral Gold Cup

The weather is going to play a key role in the outcome of tomorrow’s big race, the Coral Gold Cup (Newbury, 2.50 p.m.). To start with, the cold snap might even claim the card altogether with a course inspection due at 7.30 a.m. on race day. Secondly, after little rain over the past fortnight, the going is likely to be ‘good to soft’ or quicker when the frost covers come off and horses that prefer decent ground will be favoured. The top three horses in the market – Monbeg Genius, Complete Unknown and Mahler Mission – all look well-handicapped, particularly the former on his run in the Ultima Handicap Chase

Israeli nightlife is slowly returning

Tel Aviv is the size of Bristol, with about 400,000 residents each. While Bristol has 400 pubs and bars, and just shy of a thousand restaurants, the rough concrete charm of Tel Aviv yields no fewer than 1,750 cafes, bars and clubs and more than 4,000 places to eat. Tel Aviv is a dense, hedonistic city: friendly, creative and edgy without the nasty underbelly of European cities. It is known in Israel as ‘the bubble’, secular and in its own world of sun, sea, late nights and wine, apparently separated from the problems of wider Israel.   Below the bureaucracy there are amazingly efficient relationships that seem alien to those of us used to

What’s wrong with eating dog? 

From my desk, as I write this, in a lofty room in a soaring new hotel in Phnom Penh, I can look down at the bustling streets and see the concrete, mosque-meets-spaceship dome of the Cambodian capital’s famous Central Market. Which also happens to be the place where, 20 years ago, I ate the single most disgusting thing in my life. A dried frog. This thing, this whole dried frog, was so repulsive in taste and texture – like eating a tiny, desiccated alien made of poisonously rancid rubber – that I seldom choose to recall it. But today I am forced to, because of the intriguing news from South

Hell is the multi-faith prayer room at Bristol Airport

When the Roman Emperor Justinian finished building the Hagia Sophia church in Constantinople in 537 he compared it to the great temple in Jerusalem. ‘Solomon, I have surpassed thee,’ he declared. Some 400 years later, as visiting ambassadors from Kyiv were led into the same ethereal structure, they remarked: ‘We did not know if we were in heaven or earth.’ There will be no such confusion when people enter the newly opened ‘multi-faith area’ in the free waiting zone car park of Bristol Airport. To the casual observer it looks like a bus stop with greyed-out Perspex glass windows and walls that do not quite reach the ground (presumably to