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Nicholas Farrell

Madness in the Med

Following the EU’s deal with Turkey over people smuggling, the issue of migrants trying to cross, and quite often drowning in, the Mediterranean has largely disappeared from the British media. There have been no more images like that of three-year-old Alan Kurdi, washed up on a Turkish beach after the rubber dinghy in which his

It’s got to be perfect

When I order a cup of tea in Costa, the barista says: ‘Perfect!’ I ask for tap water in a restaurant: ‘Perfect!’ I buy a card in Paperchase and at the till it’s: ‘Perfect!’ And: ‘Perfect!’ again as I put in my PIN. ‘Perfect!’ when I say I don’t need a bag. It used to

Deus ex machina

Mark Zuckerberg says that Facebook could be to its users what churches are to congregations: it could help them feel part of ‘a more connected world’. That got a dusty response. Facebook as church, eh? So the man who helped an entire generation to replace real friends with virtual ones and online communities is sounding

Test of time

I first walked into the Oval as a small boy in the early 1950s. My family home was in Brixton, only a few minutes from the ground. More than 60 years later, those early memories are still vivid. I sat on what were then very uncomfortable wooden benches with sandwiches, an apple and a bottle

Must Colston fall?

Edward Colston, mega-rich philanthropist around the year 1700, is the nearest thing Bristol has to a patron saint. The largest stained glass window in the cathedral there is dedicated to him. Go and do thou likewise, it commands. There’s no doubt Bristol owes Colston. He funded almshouses and schools here; made countless donations to churches

Poor conduct

Last weekend Daniel Barenboim brought the Staatskapelle Berlin to perform at the BBC Proms for a cycle of Elgar’s symphonies. As Elgar only finished two of the things, it is among the easier symphonic cycles to pull off. But the Staatskapelle played beautifully over two nights at the Albert Hall, with moments of outstanding musicianship.

Kids Company faces the music

It was surreal to sit in the Donmar Warehouse and watch Committee, a musical based on the investigation into the charity Kids Company. The first oddity was that anyone ever thought to write a musical based on the transcript of a Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee. The second, that this production wouldn’t have existed


Amsterdam Notebook

When my husband and I arrived in our adored Amsterdam on a sun-drenched schoolday afternoon — less than an hour in the air, first row on the plane, merry but not messy — we seemed all set for a brilliant time. We’re both Brexiteers and ever since Freedom Day we’ve been especially keen on European

Notes on...


I found the land of lost content last week, west of the Clee Hills in the Shropshire Housman wrote about, but hardly knew. It is deep England, thick with trees, stone-built farms that look like forts and tracks in gullies cut by ancient feet. The villages here have rhythmic names: Bouldon, Peaton and Cockshutford —