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The simplicity and joy of recorded conversations

Recently I stumbled across a file of conversations I’d recorded with my seven-year-old son Frank back when he was four. Topics include his travels through wormholes, why he finds planet Earth ‘boring’, the tragic story of how his ‘first family’ died and how he got his ‘laser eyes’. It was only by listening to these

The exiled activists who dream of dismantling the Russian empire

There is a dream called the Republic of Ingermanlandia. This republic’s values will be European, its borders will be open and it will prosper like its neighbour Estonia on the back of a booming digital economy. For the moment Ingermanlandia is better known as Russia’s Leningrad Region, and its capital as St Petersburg. But soon,

How an animal psychic helped find a missing dog

It was more in a spirit of desperation that I decided to contact an animal psychic after my friends’ terrier Lark disappeared. Lark vanished one evening from their house. She was chipped, and her collar had their number on it, but as the days went by no one called. Lark’s photo was put on Facebook and

125,000 Hong Kongers have come to the UK. Where are they?

The Revd Dave Ho Young wasn’t interested in being Chinese when he was growing up. After his parents’ divorce, he was brought up by his British mother in Shropshire, while his Cantonese father moved back to Hong Kong. These days, the Revd’s Chinese heritage plays a bigger part in his life: his evangelical C of E church,

Inside the fastest growing – and shrinking – churches in the UK

The Pentecostal preacher is in full flow – his voice raised to near-deafening volume, his gestures expansive but exact, the congregation murmuring back a chorus of ‘Amens’ – when he receives an unexpected interruption. ‘A woman asked me at the barbecue last week,’ he is telling us, ‘“Pastor, if I won the Lottery…”’  A voice

Notes on...

The senseless ban on snus

As the government considers banning disposable vapes because they are thought to appeal to children, it is worth reflecting on the strange saga of the EU’s ban on snus, a Swedish smokeless tobacco product that delivers nicotine into the body via a small pouch placed under the lip. The story begins when Edwina Currie was