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My identity crisis

I’m sitting at home working, minding my business, and the mobile rings. It’s DC Lyle from Wandsworth police station. He says that my name was given to Crimestoppers anonymously as a potential witness to the ‘Putney Pusher’ incident. Remember that nutter who barged a woman into the path of a bus on Putney Bridge while

My plan for Europe

The European Union has languished and become enfeebled — and we are all to blame. There is a noticeable paucity of ideas and methods. The whole system has capitulated and is at a standstill. Summits bringing together heads of state and of government have become a parody: getting together behind closed doors, repeating lofty principles,

Salman’s Arabia

There are two ways of seeing the extraordinary rise of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince: the blood-stained debut of a new dictator, or the long-overdue emergence of a reformer with the steel to take on the kingdom’s old guard. The British government is firmly in the second camp. Mohammad bin Salman is just 32 years old,

Desert storm

Until last weekend, the Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh’s exclusive Diplomatic Quarter was colloquially known as the Princes’ Hotel. It was a luxurious retreat from the heat, where royals could engage in the kind of wheeling and dealing with the global business elite that had made them millionaires on the back of the 1970s oil boom. No

Thank havens

Maybe we should blame John Grisham. In his breakthrough best-seller The Firm, the young lawyer Mitch, played by Tom Cruise in the movie, has to make regular trips to the Cayman Islands where the corrupt law firm he works for creates hundreds of shell companies for the assorted cast of money launderers, tax dodgers and

The tables turned

Dining rooms have been in the doldrums for decades. Even Mary Berry has given up on hers. ‘Most of us, I think, live in the kitchen,’ she said recently. She’s right. Plenty of us don’t have a dining room to give up on, me included. Plenty more have knocked down what once divided a dining

Sex, truth and politics

This one goes out to all the male MPs I’ve taken to lunch. I want to apologise to each and every one of you. Some of you know who you are and what went on. Some of you were so tipsy you may not have been fully aware of how shockingly you were being exploited.


Trump Notebook

The first election day since Donald Trump was elected president a year ago brought a funereal mood to Washington that you could feel on the streets. The swamp, apparently, remains undrained. Elections for governor in Virginia and New Jersey and for mayor in New York City cheered the locals a bit, producing the expected victories

Notes on...

Wet weather boots

‘Foot – foot – foot – foot – sloggin’ over Africa — / (Boots – boots – boots – boots – movin’ up and down again!).’ I do like Rudyard Kipling. I know I’m not supposed to. Trigger warning: empire, jungle stereotypes, microaggressions against monkeys, cultural appropriation of other people’s elephants. But what a stomping great marching