Even yew trees are at it. It seems the ancient Fortingall Yew in Perthshire, which everyone had assumed to be male, is bearing berries and is therefore, at least in part, female. Dr Max Coleman of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, observed: ‘The rest of the tree was clearly male. One small branch in the outer part of the crown has switched and now behaves as female.’ Which makes this not just the oldest but the most socially progressive tree in Britain, the Caitlyn Jenner of topiary.
[audioplayer src="http://rss.acast.com/viewfrom22/civilwarinthecatholicchurch/media.mp3" title="Damian Thompson and Fraser Nelson on civil war in the Catholic church" startat=30]
[/audioplayer]Last Sunday, the Italian newspaper La Repubblica carried an article by Eugenio Scalfari, one of the country’s most celebrated journalists, in which he claimed that Pope Francis had just told him that ‘at the end of faster or slower paths, all the divorced who ask [to receive Holy Communion] will be admitted’.
The Church of England has produced a lot of good men and women, but very few great ones. It is in its modest, cautious nature that it should be so. Greatness requires a lonely, single-minded strength that does not sit easily with Anglicanism’s gentle compromise.
And I suspect the Church has always been hesitant and embarrassed about the one undeniably great figure it produced in the 20th century. To this day, George Bell, Bishop of Chichester from 1929 to 1958, is an uncomfortable, disturbing person, like a grim obelisk set in a bleak landscape.
[audioplayer src="http://rss.acast.com/viewfrom22/civilwarinthecatholicchurch/media.mp3" title="Con Coughlin and Tom Tugendhat debate the state of Britain's armed forces" startat=1561]
[/audioplayer]This Sunday, David Cameron will lay a wreath at the Cenotaph to commemorate those who made the ultimate sacrifice during two ruinous world wars. People will say ‘Never Again’ and Cameron will agree.
You have probably never heard of Truvada, but it is a pharmacological breakthrough that has the potential to consign Aids to the history books. The drug effectively makes its users immune to the HIV virus. In the US, the Food and Drug Administration approved Truvada for use over three years ago. Truvada is even covered by insurance companies. It formed the backbone of New York’s HIV strategy, published this summer, which aims to halt the spread of the infection and reduce new HIV infections to near-zero by 2020.
I’ve just been on the receiving end of a Prince Philip gaffe, of sorts, and I loved it. It was at a lunch last week at the Cavalry and Guards Club for the Gallipoli Association — the charity that commemorates victims and veterans of that tragic, doomed campaign.
For 40 years, the Duke of Edinburgh has been the association’s patron. And so, in Gallipoli’s centenary year, he came to the association’s lunch.
Why the fuss about German Christmas markets? Surely they’re just schmaltzy shanty towns, full of stuff you’d never dream of buying at any other time? This tends to be my point of view until Advent… when I yearn to be back in Germany. Its motor industry may be mired in scandal, its football team may have lost to Ireland (Ireland!) but at least Christmas is one thing my cousins still do best.
So where and when to go, and what to buy? Well, most markets run from the end of November until Christmas Eve.