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Why Trump and Xi might both lose the corona wars

The Covid-19 pandemic came along just as Cold War II was getting under way between the United States and the People’s Republic of China — the superpowers of our time — with the European Union and a good many other US allies quietly hoping to be non-aligned. Far from propelling Beijing and Washington towards détente

Domestic abuse sufferers are the hidden victims of lockdown

For years, ministers from successive governments have conducted drills for all kinds of pandemic scenarios. But they never imagined a lockdown. It’s a new tool, and its implications — and side effects — have never been properly tested. So no one really thought about the effect it would have on something like domestic abuse. Before

How to scale a mountain without leaving home

In January a friend visited me at my home in Colombo, and I promised him that we would climb Adam’s Peak. That plan was scotched when, days before he landed, I went down with dengue fever. But I’d done Adam’s Peak before (twice, actually), and there would always be another chance to do it, right?

The lie of the land: we’re not all in this together

There’s a friend of mine who likes to torture me occasionally. ‘I really don’t like to tell you this,’ she trills, ‘but I’m looking out on to a field of daffodils. In the hedge just outside the kitchen window there’s a blue tit nesting.’ If she wants to go for a walk, she heads into

Bill Bryson: It’s impossible to be sick of England

‘It’s remarkable that bad things don’t happen to us more often,’ notes Bill Bryson in his latest book, a look at the ‘warm wobble of flesh’ that is the human body. He wrote it long before coronavirus upset the world, but parts of it are particularly relevant now. Viruses worth their salt know how to


Notes on...

Is this the end of the wine bottle?

Picture the world before the invention of the bottle: if you wanted a nice glass of claret at home, you’d have to send a boy round to the tavern to fill up a jug — unless you were rich enough to have a whole barrel in your cellar. Around 1630, a new tougher glass was