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Playing with fire

In a couple of weeks’ time, David Cameron and George Osborne will arrive in China and witness at first hand an economic boom that is shaking the world. The British duo will doubtless receive a polite and outwardly respectful reception. But, as I discovered on a visit to Shanghai last week, Chinese diplomats and academics

Who do you Trust?

Visitors to Thomas Hardy’s birthplace in Dorset, a small thatched cottage built by Hardy’s great-grandfather, used to be met by a bare house and a guide book. Now they are greeted by a fire in the grate and a curator at the parlour table, dispensing tea and cakes and chatting about the author’s childhood. Those

Only prigs wear mini-skirts

Uncle Norman likes to talk about the year the mini-skirt was born. (The name has been changed to protect him.) It was 1965 and he was a law student living in Chelsea. And when the skirt arrived, he took a year off university, and spent it on the No. 22 bus on the King’s Road,

American Notebook | 30 October 2010

To New York, for a benefit gala at Cipriani 42nd Street for the Norman Mailer Centre and Writers Colony. We are there as a team to present British GQ’s first student writing award to a 65-year-old mother of two: Helen Madden, who presented the children’s TV show Romper Room in the early 1970s and still

Carbon captives

While waiting for the comprehensive spending review, I passed the time watching two clips from British Pathé newsreels of the late 1940s. One featured Welsh housewives moaning about Stafford Cripps’s budget — one so angry at the cut in cheese rations that she threatened to shoot the Labour chancellor. The other clip, in characteristically uplifting

The pecking order

Every now and again you read about ‘Empty Nest Syndrome’ — a curious affliction suffered by parents who are sad that their children have left home. It sounds like heaven to me. My wife and I should be, well, free as a bird now that all our little ones have fled to university and beyond.

Work? Nice if you can get it

I am not unemployed due to laziness. I have ambitions. I would like to be successful. I would like to have a beautiful, grounded wife, children, and earn a good crust. My grandfather, who died before I was born, was in the Navy during the second world war. In his field he was an important