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Ian Acheson

Keeping the peace: the politics of policing protest

Armistice Day is meant to be a moment of solemn national unity. Yet this year it is expected to coincide with the rather less harmonious ‘Million March for Palestine’, as hundreds of thousands gather in central London on Saturday to protest against Israel’s war on Gaza. Are these events compatible? Should the protest be banned?

The overlooked genius of Ronald Firbank

This week English Heritage has put up a blue plaque to the novelist Ronald Firbank, and I know, from 40 years of going on about Firbank, that not everyone who sees it will have heard of him. He falls into that intriguing and important category of blue-plaque subjects who are not household names, but whose

How Egyptians see the Gaza crisis

I was invited to speak at the memorial service for my colleague and friend, Professor Doris Enright-Clark Shoukri, at the American University in Cairo. It was to be held at the downtown Cairo campus, overlooking Tahrir Square. Doris had worked as a professor of English literature at the university from 1955 to 2017. The same

What do sugar and cocaine have in common?

Stephen Fry is a national treasure whom half the nation can’t stand. He drops his façade of loveability mid-chortle as soon as Brexit is mentioned. He threw a spectacularly pompous Remainer wobbly a few weeks ago and I remember thinking: is he determined to make the people he disdains actively hate him? If so, it’s

The unfathomable depths of Palestinian despair

Away from Gaza, things are getting worse in the West Bank. I’ve received many messages from Palestinian friends raging at what is going on there. To get an idea of the despair of West Bank Palestinians, remember the suicidal attacks on the streets of Jerusalem a decade or so ago. Usually what happened was an

How to speak London

Cockney is dead, but so is the King’s English. Long live Standard Southern British English. The Cockney Barbara Windsor yelling ‘Ge’ aah-a my pub’ is as fossilised as Eliza Doolittle. And what a shock it is today to hear the late Queen, aged 21, declare: ‘My whole life whether it be long or short shall

Notes on...

In defence of foie gras

Apoll shows that nine out of ten Brits want to ban the import of foie gras. Crumbs! Haven’t they got anything more important to worry about? The Times says about 200 tons are imported from Europe every year. I only wish some would come my way. Though the same article says Waitrose stocks this greatest