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A QC’s guide to cocaine

As a defence silk, I come across some surprisingly intelligent drug dealers. Many of them are highly entrepreneurial and driven, and I’m often left wondering what they might have achieved if only they’d chosen a different career. Sharp operators are drawn to the narcotics trade because vast profits can be made in very little time.

The age of Hillary

Predicting what might happen in a Donald Trump presidency is easy. Day 1: A fabulous, really great inaugural, the best ever, with amazing entertainment by fabulous, top people. Day 2: War with Iran. Day 3: War with North Korea. Day 4: Mexico builds a wall to keep out Americans. But let’s not go there. (Please.) Let

Jeeves and the Cap that Fits

The Secret Service said it would investigate Donald J. Trump’s longtime butler over Facebook posts laced with vulgarities and epithets calling for President Obama to be killed. — New York Times, 12 May 2016 I had only just risen from a deep slumber, when in shimmied Jeeves with the cup that cheers. ‘Does the day

Private fears

I should have known the London prep school scene was a racket from the way parents talk about it. They sound mad. ‘You’re too late!’ I was told by one mother, when my Little Face (not his real name) was nine months old, as if we had, by a whisker, missed the lifeboats at the

Labour’s England problem

In the window of a council house on a working-class estate in Exeter was a sticker bearing the cross of St George and a simple warning: ‘If this flag offends you, why not consider moving to another country?’ For some canvassers working on Labour MP Ben Bradshaw’s 2015 campaign, such a symbol naturally meant the

Poles apart | 19 May 2016

Bono has a new opponent: Liroy, a tattooed Polish rapper whose hits include ‘Jak Tu Sie Nie Wkurwic’ (‘How can I not get pissed off?’). He was outraged when the U2 singer recently claimed that Poland is succumbing to ‘hyper-nationalism’. In an open letter Liroy wrote: ‘Your knowledge on this subject must be based on


Brazil Notebook

Ipanema, Brazil Another Sunday night, yet another episode of Game of Thrones drowned out by pot-banging and angry folk yelling into the night. In my quiet corner of Ipanema, a slanging match takes place as middle-class tenants of a high-rise apartment start slandering their neighbours in the favela below. The words ‘cow’ and ‘communist’, among others,

Notes on...


Verdi has a peculiar if not unique place in the pantheon of great composers. If you love classical music at all, and certainly if you love opera, then it is almost mandatory to love him. The great and good of the musical world, the kind of people who sit on the boards of opera houses