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A modern mysticism

I first met a tarot reader in a hotel lobby in central London on my birthday four years ago. I was a book critic at the time and was aware that the cards had inspired writers from W.B. Yeats to T.S. Eliot and Italo Calvino — perhaps there’s a novel in this, I thought. This

Will there be an election?

When a British government loses control over parliament, the natural remedy is to hold a general election. Why prolong everyone’s agony? But despite Theresa May having now failed twice to pass her signature Brexit deal, there is no sign she is willing to go back to the country. Jeremy Corbyn is keen for an early

It’s not over yet

Almost three years have passed since Britain voted to leave the European Union, and yet we are still no closer to a Brexit resolution than we were on that June morning. No one is in control and this country’s whole system of governance is creaking. We are in an interregnum that shows no sign of

A dose of understanding

What a baffling group of people anti-vaxxers are. They rail against one of the miracles of modern medicine, peddling scare stories about vaccines which had nearly eradicated many deadly childhood illnesses in the developed world. Baffling, of course, is too soft a word for many: they’re dangerous, because their anti-science views don’t just put their

Bible bashers

Being a street preacher can be a thankless business. Since moving to Britain from Nigeria nine years ago, 64-year-old Oluwole Ilesanmi has toured the country reading aloud from the Bible, spending hours outside train stations, urging people to see the light. Sometimes he makes a convert; most of the time his preaching falls on deaf

Bloody liar

It is more than 15 years since the Bloody Sunday soldiers last appeared in public. For months I sat in the room with them to watch their evidence at Lord Saville’s inquiry. And while Lionel Shriver is right that the sight of terrorists benefiting from an immunity denied to our soldiers is grotesque, there are


A punk’s notebook

One of the great things about touring with a band is that it gets me away from my little west London bubble and out and about around the towns and cities that I haven’t been to in quite some time. So off we go with my new boots and panties and my escape-from-the-band book, Larry

Notes on...

Irish ruins

The Celtic Tiger has come and gone. Over the past 30 years, billions of pounds poured into Irish houses and then drained out again. The ruins of Ireland have slumbered on through the peak, the trough and the current blessed recovery. Medieval castles, Georgian country houses, Victorian lodges… They cling on, disappearing under the ivy,