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[/audioplayer]If David Cameron were to divide Europe up, he’d make some crude distinctions. There would be the basket cases, like Italy, Spain, Greece, France — examples, by and large, of how countries should not be run. Then there’d be the former Soviet bloc, sceptical about Brussels because they recently escaped a remote, controlling bureaucracy and don’t want to repeat the experience.
Ben, an articulate 14-year-old hard at work in the school design and proto-typing centre, is explaining to Lord Baker of Dorking how 3D printing works. Baker, a former Tory education secretary, listens intently before declaring the technology ‘marvellous’. This coming July will mark the 25th anniversary of his leaving the Department for Education — but Lord Baker, who turns 80 this year, has never quite stopped the school reform that he started.
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[/audioplayer]On Saturday morning, when the body of the beautiful Antipodean model and television personality Charlotte Dawson was being taken from her home in Sydney, I was back in Blighty rolling up my sleeves and getting stuck in for yet another happy hour in the gladiatorial arena that is the Spectator online comments section.
Thanks to the centenary of the first world war, counter-factuals are much in vogue. How different might history have been had Archduke Franz-Ferdinand never been assassinated, had Britain kept out of the conflict, had the Allies been defeated? Questions such as these are more than just a parlour game. They serve to cast the shadow of contingency over events that otherwise can seem all too predetermined.
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[/audioplayer]I am training for ordained ministry at a Church of England theological college. I am a trainee vicar, if you will. I am also a Conservative, which puts me in an extremely small minority and quite a tricky position. At my college, there are approximately 60 ordinands in full-time residential training.
To Sydney for the first of three G20 meetings in Australia this year. It’s a long way to travel, but as the formidable Treasurer, Joe Hockey, reminded the jet-lagged finance ministers and central bank governors of the world: now you all know what Australian ministers have been putting up with all these years they’ve been travelling to your meetings. The government of Tony Abbott may be new to the international stage, but they’ve laid on an impressive show.
Last year 114,000 people flocked to Houghton Hall in north Norfolk for a once-in-a lifetime opportunity. Part of the great collection of paintings sold by the Walpole family in 1779 to Catherine the Great of Russia was back, thanks to a generous loan from the Hermitage. It was an un-usual triumph — a blockbuster exhibition in a private house rather than an art gallery. Most art before that last century was made to be seen in houses or churches.