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A race against time: can the vaccine outpace the virus?

The next three months may well prove to be the hardest of the whole pandemic. The new variants of Covid-19 appear to be the wrong type of game-changer. After our national lockdown in March, infection levels started falling because of extreme measures — including closing schools, places of worship and non-essential retail. But the infectiousness

The Democratic takeover is nearly complete

In the days following the US presidential election in November, political centrists reached a hasty verdict. Never mind all the squabbling about voter fraud — they had won. The extremes had lost. Donald Trump, the maniac, was out; Joe Biden, the moderate, was in. Yes, the increasingly radical Democratic party still controlled the House of

Why I was sacked from Eton

One of the things I’ll miss about teaching at Eton is the ever-present threat of an ironic riposte from one of the boys. ‘Cheer up,’ I told one who looked un-enthused by Milton in my first week at the school, nine years ago. ‘Two hundred years ago, you’d have been down a mine!’ ‘Sir,’ he

The echoes of Diana in Prince Harry

Oscar Wilde’s Algernon observed: ‘All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does, and that is his.’ No man? Not quite. Prince Harry is in so many ways turning into a version of his mother. The first sentence of the joint new year statement from the Duke and Duchess of Sussex

The EU has botched its vaccination programme

It was the most excruciating moment of Ursula von der Leyen’s short tenure as President of the European Commission. On Friday morning she hastily put together a press conference to counter the growing media storm across Europe over the EU’s handling of vaccine procurement. She doubled down on ‘solidarity’, announcing that the Commission had managed

Notes on...

How to be a hermit

At a time when so many of us are experiencing some measure of isolation, it is hard to fathom the choice to live in extreme confinement in the middle of the urban bustle. But hermits were once unremarkable features of England’s cities. The 13th-century traveller entering London from the north, at Cripplegate, would have walked