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Doing it for themselves

They cut virgin paths through tropical forests, paddled dugout canoes over West African rapids, sailed along the Yangtze in a sampan, climbed the Rocky Mountains with a gun-toting guide, galloped across the Iraqi desert in search of sheikhs, slept under the stars and ate a lot of snake. It’s easy to be seduced by the

Let battle commence…

To most of the cabinet, it does not matter if Theresa May announces a timetable for her resignation: they can’t see her lasting until the summer and the race for her successor is now on. Coffees are being bought, dinners laid on, allies sounded out — all in expectation of a contest being called at

After May

The most effective political insult of modern times was delivered by Norman Lamont in 1993, when he declared that John Major’s government gave ‘the impression of being in office but not in power’. But it is truer of Theresa May than it ever was of Major. Lamont argued that Major paid too much attention to

Where it all went wrong

Management books often repeat the dictum: ‘If there’s one thing worse than making mistakes, it’s not learning from them.’ So let’s apply that smug little idea to Brexit. Before I start, a couple of housekeeping points. I voted Remain, but believe we must leave the EU and honour the referendum result. Second, as a former

No ID, no entry

In just a few weeks, the government begins its crackdown on porn. From April, all UK-based internet users will be required to prove their age before accessing adult websites. And if they can’t? As they say on the doors, it’s no ID, no entry. Since the arrival of the internet, and then the smartphone, parents

Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot.

 Washington REVERSE FERRET! When he edited the Sun, Kelvin MacKenzie used to throw open his office door and bellow this at the newsroom when the paper had got a story wrong. It came from the northern endurance sport of ferret-legging: a pair of razor-toothed ferrets are put down your trousers — no underwear allowed. The

Netflix and kill

Thumbing avidly through Heat magazine recently in a fevered search for the latest on the Cheryl/Liam/Naomi infernal triangle, I was startled to find a pull-out preview of a new true-crime magazine called Crime Monthly. It was aimed at an audience that is presumably satiated with seeing celebrities tormented and now wants to read about ordinary

Ukraine’s reality TV

Servant of the People is a hilarious Ukrainian situation comedy currently running on Netflix. It opens with a young high-school teacher launching into a foul-mouthed rant against the corruption and venality of his country’s political class. ‘Why are all the honest people fools and the clever ones are thieves?’ shouts nerdy but honest history master

Notes on...


The tale of forced Yorkshire rhubarb has the makings of a David Lean film. Frosty Slavic beginnings, wartime devotion, steam trains. Rhubarb was brought to Britain from Siberia towards the end of the 17th century, and it’s hard to imagine a more eccentrically British fruit — though technically it is of course a vegetable. The