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The rise of the pop-up brothel

I had been in Los Angeles for less than a month when I received the call from a concerned neighbour back home in London. ‘Why are there men queuing up outside your flat at 3 a.m.?’ It was a good question. ‘And are you aware that a locksmith came over the other day to change your

Next up, Nato

For Theresa May, the most worrying part of Donald Trump’s talks with Kim Jong-un came two days before the two men met. The US President had arrived in Singapore early after escaping the G7 summit in Canada, still sore at being upbraided by his European and Canadian counterparts about tariffs. With time on his hands,

All hail Æthelflæd!

This week, Prince Edward was paying tribute to a much-loved Queen. Not ‘Mummy’ — but Queen Æthelflæd, Alfred the Great’s eldest child, the Lady of the Mercians and one of our greatest, if largely forgotten, Anglo-Saxon leaders. If it wasn’t for Æthelflæd kicking the Danes out of Mercia during her reign from 911-918, we’d all

The best place to be poor

I was born in north London, at the Whittington Hospital in Archway, and at the age of 62, after many years of trouble and wandering, I have come to rest in the streets where I was born. And in my usual cunning way I have become one of the roughly 300 or 400 people living

Becoming German

In the end, after all the waiting, the document didn’t look like much — a sheet of A4 paper adorned with a German eagle, and one of those tongue-twisting Germanic compound nouns beneath it: Staatsangehörigkeitsausweis. At last, my Certificate of German Citizenship had arrived. How did I feel? Elated, tearful, overjoyed. It was at this

What happened to communism?

I remember the autumn day in 1990 when they came to cart away the large hammer and sickle outside my Moscow block of flats. It was about the size of a cow and made out of a gritty grey metal alloy which had, like almost everything in the USSR, never looked new or clean. Once,

Notes on...

The Landmark Trust

About halfway across Lundy, if you’re trudging from the landing bay towards the north lighthouse, there’s a tiny holiday cottage all on its own. It’s a mile and three quarters from the island’s village and very basic inside. There are two bunks in the single bedroom; a dodgy oven in the kitchen that only works