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Ross Clark

Water woes: who’s to blame for the shortages?

For residents of the London borough of Islington whose homes were flooded this week by a burst water main, Thames Water’s decision to announce a hosepipe ban the following day must have come across as a sick joke. Just a few days before the flood, the company sent out an email asking its customers to

Should you grass on a neighbour who breaks the hosepipe ban?

We know many water companies are themselves guilty of profligate waste through unrepaired leaks. So to snitch on a neighbour, who is making a comparatively tiny personal contribution to the drought, seems petty. But we are only human and it is hard to watch your flowers and vegetables wither and die while your neighbour is

Going bananas: Biden’s America is fast regressing

It’s hardly surprising that China feels emboldened. Xi Jinping must look at America and see not just a superpower in decline but a gerontocracy that has lost its marbles. Last week, Nancy Pelosi, the 82-year-old Speaker of the House of Representatives, visited Taiwan as a gesture of solidarity, in spite of China’s fierce warnings that

The high life of stonemason James Preston

The impact had shattered the churchyard path. Chunks of asphalt and mortar lay in the surrounding grass. Just next to the path, like a broken chess piece, lay the remnants of the church’s 150-year-old spire. A few hours earlier, it had stood at the very top of the church, towering over the churchyard. Mercifully, the

I took my son to Drag Queen Story Hour

The nice young man in the library had told us he was worried about protests when I booked tickets for Drag Queen Story Hour. We only began to hear the chants halfway through the show; they drifted up from the courtyard in front of St John’s Hall, the council building that houses Penzance library, through

It’s time for Tory socialism

The Conservative leadership contest has descended into a low-tax auction, which is not a good thing. The implication is that the Conservatives think government should be minuscule at the very moment when private enterprise is letting us down – the energy companies are raking in cash and spending it on stock buybacks – and the

Liberté, égalité, nudité: France’s new sexual politics

Montpellier France is going through a sexual civil war. After the great carnal outburst of the free-loving soixante-huitards, some have reverted to abstinence and prudishness, while others are pushing sexuality to new extremes. The crisis in French sexuality has exposed itself this summer as the clothes have come off. It’s not always a pretty sight,

Notes on...

Who needs a hosepipe? The watering cans worth investing in

In the hot, dry summer of 1976, I was working as a gardening student at Arboretum Kalmthout in Belgium. The temperatures in July were frequently 40°C by lunchtime, so we worked in the early mornings and through the evenings. My job was to drive a tractor pulling a trailer, on to which were placed dustbins