Featured articles


Braveheart banking: the fall of RBS

When Fred Goodwin was looking for a marketing slogan in the boom years, he alighted on a simple phrase which encapsulated the ‘can-do’ philosophy of the bank he ran. RBS would, promised the adverts, ‘Make It Happen’. Goodwin and his colleagues made it happen, though not quite in the way they intended. They turned RBS

End of the party – how British political leaders ran out of followers

If Cyril Northcote Parkinson was still around he would devise a law for party political conferences: that the significance of what is discussed in the conference centre is inversely proportional to the difficulty of getting in. Time was, when politicians stayed in shabby hotels in Blackpool and wandered along the seafront to the Winter Gardens

Notes on…Classic cruising

We arrive at the tiny Greek island of Sikinos on a blustery day, making landing rather difficult. Is there transport to take us to the extraordinary, now deconsecrated, perhaps 6th-century church of Episkopi inside a 3rd century AD Roman mausoleum/temple? The mayor appears: yes, we can use the island’s one bus, and off we go

When Syria sneezes, Lebanon catches a cold

  Beirut News that the Syrian regime has agreed to hand in its arsenal of chemical weapons is a great relief to Lebanon. For the past few weeks we have been wandering around like inmates on death row, fearing that a US-led strike would ignite a potentially apocalyptic conflict between Hezbollah and Israel or at

The ideal death show

I am in a yurt, talking about death. Everyone is seated in a circle, and I am the next-to-last person to share. The last of the summer sun is shining through the entrance. At one end is a display coffin of biodegradable willow — there’s also tea and coffee, and coffin-shaped biscuits with skeleton-shaped icing.

The importance of not being called Nigel

You know what the real problem with Nigel Farage is? It’s not his politics, for they are a matter of personal taste. No, it’s something more objective. His name. And not that improbable surname, either, the one that makes him sound like a Bond villain. It’s the Nigel. There’s a passage in Julian Barnes’s novel