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Bad romance | 7 February 2019

I interviewed a prominent 1970s women’s liberationist recently and ended up discussing the sexual culture of her political heyday. ‘Everyone was sleeping with everyone,’ she said. ‘You had to have a good reason not to sleep with someone.’ I felt a stab of envy, a sharpened version of what I feel browsing black-and-white snaps from

Both sides will blink

What can the EU do to help the Britons out of their Brexit quagmire? Until very recently, the answer would have been ‘little, if anything’. There is a deal on the table, which Theresa May herself pronounced to be non-negotiable. Well, parliament directed her — and by implication, the EU — to think again and


When Nissan announced it would not, after all, produce its new X-Trail in Sunderland, this was reported as proof of an impending Brexit disaster. A Labour councillor in South Wales even suggested that ‘all those who voted to leave should be laid off first’. But Nissan’s decision has little to do with Brexit, and everything

Hold your horses

‘Can I get you a cup of tea?’ asked the lady as she sat beside me in the caravan. The old farmer, a horse dealer, sat on another seat looking stunned. ‘You look exhausted,’ she said. I was. I’d driven hundreds of miles looking for horses I had seen seized from the horse dealer’s farm.

The wrong track | 7 February 2019

No one is in any doubt about the problem facing Britain’s railways. Over the past decade, rail fares have risen twice as fast as salaries. Yet across the national network, overcrowding is at record levels, cancellations are spiralling and passenger dissatisfaction is at a ten-year high. Yet ministers are about to start pouring £4.5 billion

The edge of reason

My husband, usually a cool customer, watched Free Solo from behind his fingers, sometimes jumping up from the sofa and backing away from the TV. Audiences at Imax showings have behaved the same way, rising to their feet, clenching their sweaty fists as they watch  Alex Honnold, a 33-year-old rock climber from Sacramento, make his


Chicago Notebook | 7 February 2019

One of the few pleasures of advancing age is that, no matter how awful some looming catastrophe may be, you can always remember a time that was worse. On hearing the polar vortex was headed for Chicago last week, my wife and I smugly reminisced about having survived the coldest night in the city’s history

Notes on...

Cold water swimming

The woman on the path has come to a dead stop. She’d been shuffling along in that bunched-up posture we all developed when we bought smartphones, a two-fingered salute to the millennia of evolution that managed to pull humans into an upright position. Now she’s staring, open-mouthed, at her surroundings. I rather enjoy the shocked