Save our railway ticket offices!

‘Always be cheerful’ – a motto to which I’ll return in the final item – speaks to my natural demeanour. But when asked whether I see grounds for optimism in the UK business scene, I’ve struggled lately to find anything positive in the near-certain advent of a Labour government, the agonisingly slow retreat of inflation and the damage of still-rising interest rates. Nevertheless, let me take a step back. In an ONS survey this month, four times as many respondents (36 per cent) thought their business performance would improve over the next 12 months compared with those who thought it would decline (9 per cent). There were also upticks in

The politics of handbags

‘Of course, I am obstinate in defending our liberties and our law — that is why I carry a big handbag,’ Margaret Thatcher once told an interviewer. That handbag was part of the Iron Lady’s suit of armour; a fashion accoutrement turned into a political prop. But an accessory that became instantly recognisable on the outside held secrets on the inside. Thatcher referred to it as the only ‘leak-proof’ place in Downing Street, and it was a bag of tricks from which she might conjure pertinent quotes from Abraham Lincoln or Friedrich Hayek, or a crumpled brief from a mysterious source. Norman Tebbit said the art of being a successful

Letters: It’s too late for Boris

Disastrous decisions Sir: In his otherwise excellent analysis of Boris Johnson’s premiership (‘The missing leader’, 19 September), Fraser Nelson suggests that he could still succeed. It’s too late. Although we ‘know that he’s not responsible for the pandemic’, he is responsible for the government’s response to it. The consequences of that hysterical response, seemingly contrived by a small, mostly unelected cabal, have been, and will be, disastrous for huge numbers of people; the enormity of the failures too great to be set against subsequent successes. Boris persuaded us to support him with a carefully crafted image of a jovial positive thinker, a libertarian and man of the people. He’s been

Why I’ve given up on handbags

I have given up handbags. Men may think this a trifling thing. Women will understand it was not a painless decision. In my adult life I had rarely left home without a bag. Sometimes just a small clutch bag, but more likely a bucket bag which hung, with the weight of a Yorkshire terrier, from my shoulder. I have a dent in my collarbone to prove it. Then came Covid. You may remember that obsessive hand-washing was the first thing asked of us. It preceded social distancing, mandatory masks and the proscription of everything that makes life enjoyable, and though I’m not a herd animal I did give some thought