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Sharia for feminists

Is Islam inherently misogynistic? That old charge arose again after the Manchester bombing in May, with the suggestion that Salman Abedi’s choice of target was driven by a deep-seated prejudice against women — above all against young western women, with their supposedly lax morals and corrupting ways. It was a subtext, too, of the timing

The Corbyn coalition

One of the most disappointing things about the general election for me was how few people must have read Nick Cohen’s article ‘Why You Shouldn’t Vote For Jeremy Corbyn’ before entering polling booths on 8 June. Or perhaps they did read it and thought: up yours, mate. The more I think about it, the more

Letter from a Corbynista

Dear Uncle James, Thank you for your note (‘Letter to a Corbynista’, June 24). Firstly, of course we’re still friends, so there is no need to worry about that. The world would be a boring place if we all agreed on everything, and probably a backward one too if no one was challenged on their

Andy’s ace

Who will you cheer for if Andy Murray meets Roger Federer at Wimbledon? It’s not a straightforward question, at least not for the English. The loveliness of Rodge and the awkwardness of Andy — however British — makes for a difficult and revealing choice. Different if you happen to be Scottish. I remember a conversation

Lessons in love and loss

Some of the time, most of the time, it’s tricky to believe in God. There’s just too much that’s sad — and behind it all, the ceaseless chomping of predators. Then sometimes the mist lifts and just for a moment you can see why the saints insist that everything’s OK. There’s a documentary out now,

When gossip was king

This month marks the tenth anniversary of the death of Nigel Dempster, once the world’s best-known gossip columnist. For three decades he was paid a fortune by the Daily Mail to provide juicy tittle-tattle about the royal family (he was a close friend of Princess Margaret), the aristocracy (particularly priapic minor baronet Dai Llewellyn), tycoons


The lady’s slipper orchid, Cypripedium calceolus, is both a beautiful and silly–looking plant. It is the strangest of our native orchids, with a fat yellow pouch and burgundy twisting petals. It doesn’t quite look as though it belongs in the gentle English countryside and, for a while, it didn’t belong at all. Why did I

Notes on...

A century of De Stijl

It starts as soon as I arrive. In Den Haag Centraal railway station, the kiosks, windows, lift shaft, piano and even the hoarding on the building site outside, are all cheerfully decked out in red, blue and yellow rectangles, black lines and an occasional patch of straight-sided white. Holland’s capital has gone Mondrian mad; the