Featured articles


The fall of Petraeus

In the middle of a breaking news story, MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell sounded like she was about to cry. Something had happened to the CIA director David Petraeus — but what? Andrea ticked off his accomplishments one by one, the phrase ‘personal tragedy’ echoing ominously over the airwaves. For the love of Mike, was he in

The coming showdown

Angela Merkel is running out of nice things to say about David Cameron and the Tory rebels who are dictating his European policy. Der Spiegel magazine recently compared the British to ‘at best spectators in the gallery like Statler and Waldorf, the two old men on The Muppet Show’. This was apparently after a briefing

Merkel’s sovereign remedy

‘Europe is speaking German now,’ said Volker Kauder, parliamentary chairman of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrat party, about a year ago. He was urging Britain to back Merkel’s plans for saving Europe’s rickety banks and state budgets. Last week, the Chancellor herself arrived in London to dine with David Cameron and deliver the message

In praise of Bryan Ferry

Francis Lee, the barrel-chested footballer who banged in goals for Bolton Wanderers and Manchester City, was my first idol. Billy Wilder, Johnny Mercer and Philip Larkin rank among the heroes of my maturity, though nobody will ever displace Chekhov and Schubert at the head of the table. But the vicar’s son who went up to

End of the Party?

The 18th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party had begun, and President Hu Jintao was droning his way through his last big speech before stepping down for good. Irritatingly, he raised his voice to a low shout every time he reached the end of a significant sentence. That was when the assembled delegates were expected

Bringing obituaries to life

I used to be a foreign correspondent. Sometimes I thought it was a pretty glamorous job. At dinner parties I might occasionally drop hints about the dangerous sorts of places I had been to. But the only people who cared were other foreign correspondents, and then only because they were eager to dwarf my boasts

Seven things to do if you’re not skiing

These days, a winter holiday isn’t just about skiing. The majority of larger resorts offer a range of activities from dog-sledding to five-star spa facilities, while adrenalin-fuelled sports such as snow polo and skeleton bobsleighing are becoming increasingly popular. If you fancy doing something a bit different this year, here are some ideas: 1 If

Downhill for generations

My 22-year-old daughter is feeling a little low. Me, too, actually. I’ve just told her there aren’t enough pennies in the coffers to go skiing this season — just as there weren’t last season. I suggested she should get together a group of friends and do it on the cheap but we all know that