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If I were in charge of Ofcom…

‘You can appoint your own chief executive,’ boomed the PM over a rather sad bottle of wine. He was asking if I would like to chair the media regulator Ofcom because, he declared, he was determined to do something to end the usual suspects’ control of our public bodies. It was soon apparent that I

Cutting ties: the sad decline of men’s neckwear

Of all the global trends exacerbated by Covid, the demise of the necktie is probably not the most important. It is, however, worth noting — because the way we dress tells us a lot about who we are. The tie has been on the retreat as a quintessential item of the male wardrobe for the

Common prayer: when churches become mosques

A Presbyterian minister, a Pentecostalist pastor and a Sunni imam come to worship in the same place. It’s not the start of a joke: this is literally what happens at my local church in east London which, strangely, now encompasses a mosque. It was in danger of being closed, but instead the walled church complex

I still miss Kirsty MacColl

I’ve been occupied this year recording and promoting a new album. I was pleased to finally see the release of the latest Bond film — I recorded the soundtrack mostly at Hans Zimmer’s studio in Soho. Hans and I are pretty tight, we’ve been working together for around ten years now. Billie Eilish and her

Only a benevolent dictator can save Oxford

Only a dictator can save Oxford now. Local government simply cannot grasp how precious this marvellous, unrivalled city is, and how easy it will be to erode it into bare, dispiriting bleakness and ugliness. Any fool can see that the ancient colleges of the university must be preserved, but the setting in which they stand

Putin is more rational than Nato realises

Over the last nine weeks Vladimir Putin has moved more than 90,000 troops to the borders of Ukraine and, according to US intelligence, ordered his military planners to draw up detailed blueprints for a full-scale invasion. Putin insists the build-up is defensive. Russia is acting only in response to a ‘growing threat on our western

Why is China turning its back on the world?

China reacted to the news of the US government’s diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics with predictable fury — a foreign ministry spokesman described it as a ‘naked political provocation’. He then added that US officials had jumped the gun because they had not even been invited. That seemed like a bit of added

Notes on...

Why do we kiss under mistletoe?

Give us a snog. Pucker up at the Christmas party. Kiss me quick at the Nativity play. Will you be snogging this season? Thérèse Coffey, Secretary of State for Work, Pensions and Office Passion, has spoken. ‘I don’t think there should be much snogging under the mistletoe.’ she told Robert Peston on ITV. Sajid Javid,