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Passage from India

It is not fashionable to feel sympathy for the men and women who lived and served in the British colonies and who had to leave when independence came, whether it was from Kenya, Ghana — or from India, which celebrated the 70th anniversary of its freedom earlier this month. But I do, because I remember

University challenge | 24 August 2017

In a few weeks, a new intake of students will arrive, all fresh-faced and excited, at universities around the country. They’ll be thrilled at the prospect of escaping the wagging finger of mum and dad, eager to absorb new ideas. But I’m afraid they are in for a rude awakening. Unless they’re very fortunate, they

Unsafe spaces

As a child in Glasgow, I learned that sticks and stones might break my bones but words didn’t really hurt. I’m now at New York University studying journalism, where a different mantra seems to apply. Words, it turns out, might cause life-ruining emotional trauma. During my ‘Welcome Week’, for example, I was presented with a

Macron marches on

The rentrée politique in France next month promises to be the most exciting in decades as the dynamic superstar president Emmanuel Macron, aged 39¾, embarks on his mission to rescue France from its recent ignominy and restore it to glory. No matter that the polls are showing the shine may already be off this particular

Puppy love

There have been times since the break-up when I’ve felt so low I’ve opened a bottle of Shiraz and spent the whole night flicking through my mobile-phone photos of the two of us: the sunsets we watched; the meals we shared. I’d remember long walks on the beach and longer mornings in bed. How you’d

The dice men

‘I have a slight bone to pick with you,’ I tell Ian Livingstone as he makes me a cup of coffee in his airy open-plan kitchen. ‘This is a bone I have been waiting to pick for, oh, 35 years. That bloody maze!’ Livingstone chuckles. ‘That was Steve’s. He’s the sadist.’ That maze, in a

Notes on...


When towns are on the up, there is a brief period when they inhabit what I would call the Goldilocks Zone. Stuff has changed for the better and there are suddenly very agreeable things to do, places to eat etc, but the area has not yet been comprehensively and irredeemably arseholified by arseholes. There is