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How to lose friends and ghost people

In Elizabeth Day’s new book about the fragility of friendships, annoyingly but memorably entitled Friendaholic, there’s a gripping chapter on ‘ghosting’, the process of turning a friend into an ex-friend without explaining why. It culminates in the act of cutting them dead in public. I’ve always found it a haunting experience when someone does it

The ebb and flow of life on a houseboat

In the spring of 2021 I took a man to a pub in Hackney and bought him a drink. Perhaps he should have been doing the buying, since I had just handed him a large sum in return for his narrowboat. But I was in an exultant mood. No London flat, I reasoned, could ever

The mild-mannered economist who could end Erdogan’s rule

In modern Turkey, as in ancient Byzantium, the factions and passions of the stadium crowds are a key bellwether of the people’s true mood. Last month the terraces of Istanbul’s Sukru Saracoglu stadium – home to the Fenerbahce team of which Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been a proud member for 25 years –

ChatCCP: how will China cope with AI?

The Chinese Communist party faces a conundrum: it wants to lead the world in artificial intelligence and yet it is terrified of anything with a mind of its own. Chinese regulators have reportedly told domestic tech companies not to offer their users ChatGPT, the Microsoft-funded chatbot that can provide seemingly well-researched answers to pretty much

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The secrets of Highgate Cemetery

Things are hotting up at Highgate Cemetery. Or they’ll need to if the grander tombs are to survive. During one cold spell last year, the huge mausoleum to Victorian banker Julius Beer froze on the inside as well as the outside, breaking some of the glass tiles. Lead lettering is another weak point – water