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League of nations: the race out of lockdown

Uppsala Last week, Europe started its liberation from lockdown — and it all feels like a study in national political identity. Belgium took its first step towards ‘deconfinement’ but no one seems exactly sure what that means. France is opting for complexity rather than simplicity. Italy’s national plan for the easing of its lockdown is

Lockdown, foot down: driving in the time of Covid

After the post-apocalyptic fall-off in traffic at the start of lockdown, cars are now slowly starting to return to the roads. Well, if you’ve seen a smug git cruising through north Perthshire in a 1989 Atlantic Blue BMW 320i convertible, that’s me. I’m rediscovering the love of the car. I started lockdown in London, hurtling

Another plague is enveloping the world – locusts

As if 2020 hasn’t already scared the hell out of us all, a plague of locusts is upon us. When I first witnessed a swarm swirling across my farm in Kenya, it was hard to see them in the nightmarish way they’re depicted in Exodus or the Book of Revelation. They were millions of pink

The MP demanding a new approach to China

Six years ago, Neil O’Brien was working for George Osborne when the then chancellor was enthusing about a ‘new golden era’ in Sino-British relations. But now O’Brien, who became the Conservative MP for Harborough in 2017, is one of the founders of the new China Research Group, a group of Tory MPs who are pushing

Oil on troubled waters: the US-Saudi alliance is crumbling

Donald Trump said in October 2018 that the Saudi royal family ‘wouldn’t last two weeks’ without American military support. Last week, on the back of the collapse of the US fracking industry, he finally acted on his long-standing anti–Saudi instincts. He ordered the immediate withdrawal of two patriot air defence batteries, sent to defend the


How to go clubbing without leaving your living room

To my surprise, what I miss most about life before the lockdown are parties. As others pine for restaurants and theatres, I am longing for sticky floors and 4 a.m. Ubers. Give me plastic cups and music so loud you feel it in your kidneys. Sylvia Plath wrote disparagingly of the ‘shrill tinsel gaiety of

Notes on...

Is pasta puttanesca the perfect lockdown dish?

The lockdown could have been the moment I was waiting for: a chance to make those long, slow recipes whose immense time commitment has previously wrong-footed me. Briskets. Cassoulet. Anything that involves soaking a dried bean. Alas, all that must be saved for the next pandemic. This one has so far been devoted to pasta