Featured articles


Life after death | 31 January 2019

I’ve talked to Denise Horvath-Allan more than my own mother this year. Denise’s son Charles went missing while backpacking in Canada. I see his face — never ageing, entombed within his early twenties — every day on Facebook. Denise’s posts are more desperate each time I see them. Charles disappeared in 1989, on the eve

Up the spiral staircase

‘Gene test for sale on NHS,’ blared the headlines last weekend, sparking some anxiety and confusion. The story is that Genomics England, a company owned by the Department of Health, has announced that it’s seeking people who are willing to pay to have their DNA sequenced. The fee has not yet been specified but it

May’s final mission

Theresa May will soon arrive in Brussels with a series of unlikely demands. She must tell the European Union that she wants to re-open a deal that she was hailing as not just the best, but the ‘only deal possible’ a few weeks ago. Parliament has now made her eat her words. It is a

Europe’s blind spot

In Paris in December, I sat with a journalist friend in a café on the Boulevard Auguste-Blanqui and listened to him explain to me why a no-deal Brexit would be a catastrophe for Britain. It had to do with an article his newspaper had published about the Mini. You might think they were typically British

Drunken confessions

I have always found the parable of the Prodigal Son sickeningly unfair, and I felt this again while driving a close relative down a motorway in a frightful gale at night to a residential rehab. -That morning I’d had an emergency consultation in London on behalf of the said relative, with the head of the

Old flame

It was a close-run thing for my friend who’s having a new kitchen installed in her house in Chiswick. After a persuasive campaign by her eloquent architect, who has an induction hob in his own house and loves it for its clean lines and hyper-efficiency, she had got as far as ordering one for herself.


Caracas Notebook

A man stopped me in the street in Caracas and grabbed my hand. I was alarmed, but tried not to look scared. This city sometimes ranks as the most dangerous capital in the world. The practical advice we tend to be given by security consultants boils down to ‘Don’t panic’. ‘Gringos,’ said the man, ‘are good people.

Notes on...


There are piles of stones and then there are piles of stones. Anyone can place one rock upon another, but it takes a special endeavour to get the Ordnance Survey to take notice. Once a clutch of cartographers formally recognise a cairn, it will stay mapped for centuries, if not millennia. Wander around Britain’s fells,