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Decision breakers

‘The risk of a wrong decision is preferable to the terror of indecision,’ said Maimonides. How right he was. Today, we are racked with choice, and decision-making has never been more fraught. It’s hell. Look at restaurant menus. Anything longer than a page is alarming. So much margin for error. ‘Hold on a minute, I

Theresa May’s phoney war

Next month, Theresa May is expected to launch her long-awaited audit into racial disparities in public services. We are being prepared for the worst. Unnamed Whitehall insiders say that they have been ‘shocked’ by the picture it reveals of racial discrimination in the UK. All this suggests the scene is being set for another bout

The scandal of privatised water is going to blow

Enough has been written about a Conservative government that knows its electoral success depends on Britain remaining a property-owning democracy, yet offers nothing beyond token gestures to stop the young being priced out of home ownership. Enough, too, has been said about graduates being overcharged, pensioners soaking up the largesse of the tax and benefit

Our browbeaten universities

Are university vice-chancellors paid too much? The government clearly thinks so, and is planning to fine universities that can’t justify paying their leaders more than the Prime Minister’s salary of £150,000 per annum. Louise Richardson, vice-chancellor of Oxford University (salary £350,000), strongly disagrees, and has contrasted her salary negatively with those of bankers and footballers.

The straight dope

It’s not easy to get hold of Ángel Hernández, the legendary Mexican chemist who for a decade provided illicit performance-enhancing drugs to numerous athletes, including, he claims, all eight 100 metres finalists at the Beijing Olympics. It took me just over a year of trying. The FBI also struggled. The story goes that when they

Ya Allah!

Last month Luigi Brugnaro, the mayor of Venice, warned that anyone who yelled Allahu Akbar (‘God is the greatest’) in his city was liable to be shot dead by a police sniper. A bit harsh you might think, but it’s weird how tricky it’s become to use the world’s fifth most spoken language in Europe,

Notes on...


When people come to Dover, it’s usually to pass through. The magnificent castle on the cliffs may be a tourist attraction in its own right, but for the most part, Dover has been a place people go through on their way to or back from the Continent. It’s never been much of a seaside destination.