The rat as hero

Behold rat. Behold the magnificent, clever creature as it runs from the bin you have just opened or disappears into the nearest bush. Behold rat as it is cut open or drugged or injected to improve your health in the name of science, as many millions of its peers have been. Behold rat – though you may find that tricky, because the old adage that you are never more than six feet away from a rat is comprehensively skewered in this wonderful, charming book. Wonderful? Charming? Rats? Yes. Even Joe Shute, a man scared of the creatures, bravely takes two four-inch baby rats into his house and slowly grows to

Lessons from the plague village that isolated from the world

Locked contentedly into the rhythms of farming life and digging for lead on its Derbyshire Peak District slopes, the village of Eyam lay blissfully unaware of what was about to hit it, and propel it into the history books for ever. The Viccars family, the Reverend William Mompesson and his family, Elizabeth Hancock and her six children, 350 villagers at least… none had any inkling. London existed in most minds only through talk in the public house, stories from travelling merchants and perhaps the first periodicals beginning to circulate in England. The metropolis was half a world away, a foreign place, a foreign culture. News of the plague we now