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How I missed the Matt Hancock story

I want to apologise: I have let myself down. I let others down too, and I’m sorry. Not because, Matt Hancock-style, I breached social distancing guidelines with a steamy office affair — but because I missed the scoop. I was sent a compromising picture of the then health secretary and his mistress almost a week

Don’t pity me for living in London

Londoners have had to learn, more than ever before, to master the art of fielding pity. We’ve been on the receiving end of lots of it this year from people living in the country who care about us, which makes it worse because we’re supposed to be grateful. I’m still smarting from a few recent

Angela’s ashes: Merkel is leaving the EU in chaos

Perhaps the most absurd thing ever said about Angela Merkel is that she was the de facto leader of the western world. She has certainly been one of Europe’s most successful politicians, if you define success as political survival. But as she comes to the end of her 16 years in office, her luck is

Cake expectations: afternoon tea has gone OTT

The other day, I came across a description of afternoon tea written by Alfred Douglas in 1920: ‘Two kinds of bread and butter, white and brown, cucumber and tomato sandwiches, cut razor thin, scones, rock buns and then all the cakes — plum, madeira, caraway seed — the meal had about it the lavishness of

Notes on...

The mysterious world of pigeon racing

Pigeon racing isn’t much of a spectator sport. Race birds are driven to the ‘liberation point’, where they’re released to fly back to their homes. Only the liberation and the return are witnessed — what happens in between is a mystery. This is partly what makes pigeon racing so fascinating. It’s also what can make