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In defence of dinner parties

In or out? Almost two months on and I’m afraid the great debate shows no sign of abating, certainly not in our divided household. And while we’ve had several referendums over the matter, the result is always a stalemate. The only upside is that this argument has nothing to do with Brussels. It’s far more

Heads in the cloud

The Spectator podcast: Listen to Isabel Hardman, Lara Prendergast, Charlotte Jee, Editor of Techworld, and Professor Martin Conway, head of psychology at City University discuss the memory gap. Ask me what I had for lunch yesterday and I couldn’t tell you. Names disappear as swiftly as smoke. Birthdays, capital cities, phone numbers — the types of facts

Trump holds the aces

Last week, the New York Times ran the page one headline ‘Pence Supports Ryan, Showing GOP Turmoil.’ There was turmoil in the Republican party because Mike Pence, its vice-presidential nominee, had endorsed the candidacy of Paul Ryan, its most powerful congressman. One wonders what the Times would have called it had the two men actually

Don’t grouse about grouse

The vast Bubye Valley Conservancy in southern Zimbabwe is slightly larger than County Durham, as well as much hotter and drier. Yet both contain abundant wildlife thanks almost entirely to the hunting of game. In Bubye Valley, it’s lions and buffalo that are the targets; in the Durham dales, it’s grouse. But the effect is

Straight talking | 11 August 2016

Thirty years ago this week, Queen performed what would turn out to be their last gig, at Knebworth. Their penultimate concert, at Wembley, was shown on Channel 4. I recorded it, and became obsessed. Time after time I watched-Freddie Mercury prance on to the stage sporting a moustache you could have swept a factory floor

The rainbow election

 Cape Town South Africa has just seen her most encouraging election results ever. The general election of April 1994, which brought full democracy, was important in itself but its results were a foregone conclusion — the black majority voted for the ANC, as expected. The local elections this month were different and immensely hopeful. There


Olympic Notebook

How strange it is to be watching the Olympic Games on television. No wonder people have such rum ideas of what the whole thing is about. This is the first time I’ve watched the Games on telly since 1984; the next seven times I was in the city of choice, working for a newspaper. My

Notes on...

The first favela

Where are you going?’ demanded the boy on the wall. A walkie-talkie clipped to his denim shorts crackled, but there was no sign of a weapon. ‘The English Cemetery,’ I answered. He slid down. ‘You need to go back that way. Take the road on the right.’ The street in question was a dustbowl where