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Lara Prendergast

The stealthy rise of vaccine passports

Do you remember normality? A busy diary. Holidays, parties, pubs. Who hasn’t looked back and wondered how we can return to that life which now seems so free. Sacrifices have been inevitable. After a year in and out of lockdown, are we ready to make some more? The Covid vaccines promise freedom, or at least

How chess got cool

Ten years ago, comedian Matt Kirshen’s one-liner was voted the fifth-best at the Edinburgh Fringe. ‘I was playing chess with my friend and he said “Let’s make this interesting”. So we stopped playing chess.’ Not bad, as jabs go, and I’ve heard a few — as has any lifelong chess player. Well, times have changed.

Biden vs Merkel: the battle over Russian gas is heating up

Two months ago, a Russian pipe-laying ship called the Akademik Cherskiy left the Baltic island of Rügen to finish the last few miles of the most controversial gas pipeline in the world. Germany hopes that Nord Stream 2 will improve its access to Russia’s vast reserves of natural gas. In America, however, the project is

What’s happened to all the lesbians?

As a proud resident of Sussex, I had to laugh when I heard that Facebook had threatened to ban references to Devil’s Dyke — the 100-metre-deep South Downs valley which has been a tourist attraction since Victorian times — for ‘violating community standards on hate speech’. The touchy bots even slapped a 48-hour ban on

The myth of ‘progressive’ thinking

One of the guiding instincts on the political left is that society should be ‘progressive’. Social attitudes, politics and the economy should all advance together, making society fairer and more equal in the process. In this view, a tax can be progressive if it targets the income of the wealthy, just as a law is

A defence of the Church of England

If you’ve been following the media coverage of the Church of England over the course of the coronavirus pandemic, one question you might have seen is: ‘Where is the C of E?’ Let us offer an answer. We have been burying the dead, comforting the bereaved, feeding the hungry and praying for our nation. We have been

Covid is hastening the creep towards a cashless society

If your local pub ever reopens, don’t be surprised if one thing is missing: the till. The anti-cash lobby is seeking to take advantage of the pandemic to rid us of our banknotes once and for all. When UK Finance — the trade body for the banking and payments industry — pushed the government two


John le Carré’s wild MI6 Christmas parties

In the middle of December, for reasons I’m coming to, I woke early in a posh hotel. I lay semi-dozing while my partner, Jo, was in the shower, and eventually worked out how to tune the bedside radio, an internet device, to Radio 4. The six o’clock pips sounded as a bathrobed Jo emerged, earbuds

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