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Adventure on the menu

I think of myself as an adventurous eater. I’ve had kangaroo in Australia, crocodile in Cambodia, deep-fried Mars bar in Scotland… but not much could have prepared me for my trip to China. In the narrow, brightly lit streets of Beijing, street vendors start early, preparing the day’s delights: steamed buns filled with pork, prawns

Playing tag

The frustrating thing about tagging, or electronic monitoring (EM) is that it could so easily be effective — if only we did it properly. As a former police officer, I can vouch that Theodore Dalrymple is right when he says that it’s a relatively small number of prolific offenders who commit the majority of recorded crime.

The rehabilitation game

‘They pretend to pay us and we pretend to work,’ said the Soviet worker in the good old days; the British criminal could nowadays say with equal reason, ‘They pretend to punish us and we pretend to reform.’ Recent statistics show that two thirds of young criminals ordered to wear electronic tags break their court

Celebrity flatmate

A few years ago, I answered an advertisement on a flat-sharing website and ended up living with a fledgling pop star — I’ll call him Sam. He was not long out of adolescence, and was gnawed at by his need for recognition. For years, he and his bandmates had been plastering the internet with tracks, hoping

What Africa needs now

Kenya: The Prime Minister has committed Britain to a struggle against the ‘existential threat’ of terrorism in Africa that he says will take ‘years, even decades’ of patience, intelligence and toughness. Well, there’s some truth in what he says, but not in the implication that this is a new threat to Africa — nor that

Revenge of the Clintons

Republicans turn pale with horror at the idea that Hillary Clinton might be the next president. She is the screeching harridan of their nightmares, made worse by her penchant for centre-left social policies. But they had better face up to the fact that no woman has ever been better placed to take the top job.

Travel: Timeless island

‘Hong Kong is the most Chinese city on earth,’ says my old friend Jo McBride, who has lived there for more than 30 years. That may come as a surprise to those who knew the place as a resolutely British enclave of colonial officers, traders and bankers — of whom, long ago, I was one


Israel Notebook

Friday night in Jaffa, and it’s a party. Jaffa, to the south of Tel Aviv, is where the cool kids hang, apparently — think Dalston or the meatpacking district, and add radical chic. An Israeli-Russian dude in big ironic spectacles tells me that, not far from here, they filmed scenes for the second season of