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Two great ladies

Mary Berry’s dependable The Aga Book — a book of the last century and part of my kitchen library — is full of the good sense of a domestic science instructor. There’s little hint Mary would later be crowned glam granny celebrity judge on TV’s The Great British Bake Off; neat as a pin in

Good Friday disagreement

The relationship between the UK and the Republic of Ireland has ‘reached a hunger-strike low’, says a new study by an academic from Trinity College, Dublin. ‘Relations have not been as tense since the early 1980s and political rhetoric that had vanished by the 1990s has re-emerged,’ the paper grimly concludes. The fragility of relations

The way of the cross

Declarations of hope that Notre Dame can be resurrected have been much in evidence this Holy Week. Such is the lesson of Easter: that life can come from death. Unlike the Eiffel Tower, that other great emblem of Paris, Notre Dame provides the French with evidence that their modern and secular republic has its foundations

Last rights | 17 April 2019

Four years ago, the Assisted Dying Bill was overwhelmingly defeated in parliament. The euthanasia debate hasn’t disappeared, however. One recent poll showed that 90 per cent of the UK’s population now support assisted dying for the terminally ill. So is a relaxation of the law inevitable? Would it represent progress? Or is it very dangerous?

Thank God for hymns!

Before embarking on this hymn to hymns, I’ll admit that hymn-enthusiasts feel a slight sense of anticlimax on Easter Sunday, when the pleasingly austere hymns of Lent are replaced with the too-happy, exclamation-mark-ridden hymns of Easter. Within minutes of the start of the Easter Eucharist, our mouths will ache from repetitive singing of the over-vowelled

They tuck you up

I first came across Philip Larkin’s poem ‘This Be the Verse’ when I was 18 in the late 1970s. You know the one: ‘They fuck you up, your mum and dad/ They may not mean to, but they do…’ I was working as a volunteer in a care home for physically handicapped adults in Camden,

Notes on...

Holy cats

It is claimed that the prophet Muhammad loved cats. His favourite was called Muezza and he would do without his cloak on a cold day rather than disturb his sleeping pet. Muhammad was not alone in finding these creatures beguiling. Indeed, despite there being no mention of them in the Bible, cats have a prestigious