If you’re driving at dawn or at dusk in the countryside at this time of year, you might well see shady-looking men standing around in a stubble field, their 4x4s parked close by and ‘long’ dogs — greyhound types — straining on the lead beside them.
Watch and you’ll see them walk up the field, or along the edges, until a hare makes a bolt for it. The men are ready. This is what they’re there for. A dog is let off the lead, and someone with a phone videos the scene.
Some of Venice’s problems are well known: the challenge of conserving her famous buildings, the dangers of poorly managed mass tourism — not to mention the fact that the city might well simply drown, a threat made all the more obvious by last week’s floods, the worst in 50 years. Since 1987 billions have been spent on the Mose project, a still unfinished and controversial system of underwater dams intended to protect the city from flooding.
Is Iceland on the global warming front line? You’d be forgiven for thinking so. We’ve all seen the documentaries where teary-eyed reporters stand perilously close to melting glaciers. In August, a funeral was even held for the first Icelandic glacier ‘lost to climate change’. Foreign dignitaries now hardly visit my country without taking a trip to witness the ‘horror’ of what is unfolding. They return home telling stories of how they have seen for themselves the effects of climate change.
Poetry is on a hot streak. Last year, sales in the UK topped £12 million for the first time — a rise of more than 10 per cent for the second year running. According to Parisa Ebrahimi, the poetry editor at Chatto & Windus, one reason for the trend is that poetry is no longer the domain of the white male. This may be true, but how has it happened? Part of the answer is Instagram.
Designed as a social network for sharing photos, recently the app has been adopted and adapted by writers — few of them white, many of them women — who, rather than selfies and sunsets, post snippets of verse known as ‘Instapoetry’.
I have enough self-awareness to know that the public are unlikely to care too much about a spat between a multi-millionaire ‘PR guru’ and what someone called a cabal of washed-up spin doctors. But I also know that millions and millions care about Brexit, and the fight for a Final Say referendum — which is why the spat matters.
The multi-millionaire ‘PR guru’ is Finsbury boss Roland Rudd, brother of the former cabinet minister Amber.
Ever since the referendum, the two strongest political forces in Britain have been Leave and Remain. Loyalty to political parties has faded, but feelings about the referendum result are almost stronger now than they were on 23 June 2016. For Remainers, these are tense times: for years, there has been the hope of a second referendum and stopping Brexit. But if the Tories win a majority next month, then the UK will leave the European Union on 31 January and our future relationship with the EU will be negotiated by the man who led the Leave campaign.
It’s late afternoon in the car park of Workington Asda. A little crowd is gathering in one corner, most of them clutching cameras and tripods. We’re not here to find ‘Workington Man’, the supposed archetypal voter who apparently all the parties need to court to win this election. Instead, Workington men and women — and a number of us from all over Cumbria — are here to watch a bunch of birds going to bed.