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Let hymn in: the silencing of indoor singing is senseless

‘And now we sing our final hymn, number 466.’ Remember that? The euphoria of congregational hymn-singing? The well-organised types always had the book open at the correct page, balanced precariously on the pew. The rest of us hurriedly flicked to 466 while singing the first verse, knowing it by heart from a thousand school assemblies.

Boris, Biden and the orange elephant in the room

Donald who? As Boris Johnson meets Joe Biden in Cornwall this week, the Prime Minister will hope that the President doesn’t dwell on his efforts to woo the last occupant of the Oval Office. Boris’s dalliance with Donald Trump is a bit like his affair with Jennifer Arcuri — an embarrassing fling with a rotund,

A second home in Cornwall is nothing to be proud of

Last week there was a public toilet for sale on the coast of Cornwall. The Kent-based auctioneer called it ‘an exciting and rare opportunity’, although its video tour of the property did not even undo the padlock on the security door. It was on the market for £20,000, which was a bargain — the last

Why are doctors still hiding behind Zoom screens?

Where have all the GPs gone? Doctors were among the first to be double-jabbed, ahead of teachers in the queue precisely so they could resume seeing patients in the flesh. But while schools have long been back, GPs have retreated behind their laptops never to be seen again (at least not in the flesh). The

It’s getting harder to laugh off the idea of UFOs

When the late-night talk-show host James Corden asked Barack Obama about UFOs last month, there was as usual an air of nervous joviality surrounding the subject. Bandleader Reggie Watts pressed him as well and Obama, as if relenting, admitted two things. Firstly, that he could not divulge all that he knew on air; and secondly,

How China won over the Middle East

In April, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi embarked on a six-nation Middle Eastern tour to Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Oman. ‘Belt and Road’ cooperation, economic development and the Covid pandemic were the topics of discussion. The treatment of China’s Muslim Uighur population in detention camps, which some in the

Notes on...

What makes a pasty Cornish?

This week, world leaders are doing what countless Brits do every summer: unpacking their bags in a charming corner of Cornwall. The G7 summit — Joe Biden’s first, and Angela Merkel’s last — is taking place in the resort town of Carbis Bay, a stone’s throw from St Ives. Between the speeches and the roundtables,