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The house mafia: the scandal of new builds

‘We don’t just have snags with this house — “snags” suggests issues that are minor,’ says Kelsey Aldritt of her new-build Persimmon house just outside Pembroke, Wales. ‘This house has had major problems from the moment we moved in.’ Kelsey is six months pregnant and the doctor has told her not to get stressed, but

Why is modern architecture so ugly?

In Chesham and Amersham last week, Tory voters punished the government, not only for building on greenfield sites, but for allowing the construction of too many ugly, badly designed buildings. The British public are fed up with modern architecture. Despite polls that prove this time and time again, architects simply ignore people’s views. Indeed, if

The Covid divide: there’s one rule for the elite, another for us

This week was meant to be the moment when we could celebrate the return of freedom. Instead, we’re left still navigating a maze of rules. Couples are working out what a ‘Covid-secure wedding’ means (spoiler: no dancing or hugging). Family reunions — once planned for Christmas, then delayed to Easter — are being pushed back

Even a robot assistant can’t help you make sense of Japan

Tokyo The late A.A. Gill, in his notorious ‘Mad in Japan’ essay, concluded that the only way you could make sense of Tokyo was to think of it as a vast open-air lunatic asylum, with inmates instead of residents. Gill would have loved Arisa. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered anything more stereotypically Japanese than

Triumph of the Taleban: the unfolding disaster in Afghanistan

There’s an apocryphal story, told and retold by journalists many times over the course of America’s longest war. A Taleban prisoner is sitting, relaxed, across the table from an American interrogator: ‘You may have all the watches,’ the prisoner says, ‘but we have all the time.’ Now, the Taleban’s patience is finally paying off. President

How the Lancet lost our trust

Right from its first issue in 1823, the Lancet was more than just an ordinary medical journal. Its founding editor, the dyspeptic surgeon and coroner Thomas Wakley, purposefully gave the journal the name of a sharp scalpel that could cut away useless, diseased tissue: he used it as a campaigning organ, to push back against

What Sweden’s political crisis says about Europe’s collapsing centre

Uppsala Nooshi Dadgostar is Sweden’s new political star. A young, softly spoken politician with Iranian immigrant parents and an unfinished degree in law, she became the leader of the Vansterpartiet (‘Left party’) late last year — taking over from Jonas Sjöstedt, a bleeding-heart version of Jeremy Corbyn who struggled to shake off the party’s communist

Notes on...

The problem with the Pride flag

Last month, the Pride flag was updated by the Intersex Equality Rights UK campaign group — the simple rainbow was not considered inclusive enough for intersex people. Other pressure groups had already added stripes for black people, brown people, trans people and people with Aids. The Gay Pride flag first flew 43 years ago this