Unholy row: The Choice, by Michael Arditti, reviewed

Michael Arditti’s 13th novel The Choice is full of tough moral conundrums. The central dilemma facing Clarissa Phipps, the rector of St Peter’s Church in Tapley, Cheshire, is particularly knotty. Should she remove the church’s panels depicting a troublingly sensuous Eden, painted by the degenerate artist Seward Wemlock in the 1980s, or leave them to stand? Can, in short, an artist’s life ever be disassociated from their work? This is a hot potato, one with which Arditti grapples using endless reserves of theological nuance. By juxtaposing Clarissa’s choice with others she has to make in her life (and the original choices made by Adam and Eve in eating the forbidden

Watch: parish council meeting descends into chaos

Why are academic disputes so vicious? Because the stakes are so small – or so the saying goes. The same could probably be said of parish council meetings. Though they make up a small and vital part of our democratic life, these local bodies also have a rather unfortunate habit of being dominated by petty squabbles. Even so, Mr S was still taken aback by the drama, intrigue and betrayal on display at a Handforth parish council meeting for planning and the environment, which took place over Zoom on a cold evening in December last year. Thankfully, the meeting was captured by the council for posterity, so everyone can now