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Importing the gentleman

 Beijing Gerard Manley Hopkins said that if the English had done nothing but ‘left the world the notion of a gentleman, they would have done a great service to mankind’. He was right. Yet in Britain today, you’re so very embarrassed by what we regard as your greatest single industry — turning out polished young

Victory of the swashbucklers

On 14 June, a short email popped up in the inboxes of all Financial Times editorial staff. It came from the paper’s style guru and announced tersely: ‘The out campaigners should be Brexiters, not Brexiteers.’ As usual for the FT’s style pronouncements, the memo did not lay out the reasoning behind the decision, but it

Five Go Back to Blyton

Six years ago, the publishers Hachette took the well-meaning yet preposterous step of making ‘sensitive text revisions’ to Enid Blyton’s classic Famous Five books. So ‘tinker’ was changed to ‘traveller’, ‘mother and father’ to ‘mum and dad’ and ‘awful swotter’ to ‘bookworm’. The suggestion that tomboy George needed ‘a good spanking’ became ‘a good talking

Bombs astray

Soon, soon, you will see a wondrous sight,’ says the Isis anthem, ‘for your destruction, my sword has been sharpened. We march by night, to cut and behead… We make the streets run red with blood, from the stabbing of the bayonets, from the striking of the necks, on the assembly of the dogs.’ The

And from left to left we have…

Corbyn’s allies on the hard left are lining up to reform the Labour party. Some make him look like a moderate. Here are the most notable, from the least to the most radical… Owen Jones, 32, is a Guardian columnist and former poster boy for the left. Jones suggested Corbyn could do more to appeal

The party’s over

This leadership contest was meant to topple Jeremy Corbyn, or at the very least weaken him. It has ended up strengthening him. The Corbynites will be now emboldened to go after all those who stand in their way, from the general secretary and the deputy leader to party staff and regional organisers. They are tightening their grip

The missing lynx?

Sometimes an idea is so barmy that worrying about it ever becoming reality seems pointless. So when the Labour MP Andy Slaughter asked the Environment Secretary a few weeks ago about re-introducing lynx to the English countryside, the instinctive reaction of all those listening must have been, ‘Yeah, right! Good one!’ In fact, the basis

Notes on...

The Victoria and Albert

Thomas Hardy, while still married to his first wife Emma, but arranging assignations in London with Florence, his second-wife-to-be, used to ask her to meet him at the Victoria and Albert Museum by the great, towering plaster cast of Trajan’s column. Really, Thomas? Trajan’s column? How obvious can a man be? Knowing what I know