How did the internet become so horrific?

I can dimly remember the internet getting going, gradually staking its claims on our attention with hardly anyone except tech nerds – and famously David Bowie – realising what was going on. In our defence it was the 1990s and we had a lot else to think about: Britpop, The End of History, lads’ mags, guacamole, supermodels, Tony Blair, Monica Lewinsky, etc. But here we all are now, in a world where I can do my banking from bed, America is fragmenting like papier-mâché in the rain, and primary school children can get porn on their smartphones. Can anyone recall the incremental steps that brought us here? If not, it

Back-room boys: Family Meal, by Bryan Washington, reviewed

There are meals galore in Bryan Washington’s latest novel: those that Cam and his lover Kai cook for one another; those that Cam’s childhood friend TJ cooks for his Thai boyfriend’s cousins; those that TJ’s Vietnamese father Jin cooked for his neighbours every weekend; and those that the now bulimic Cam vomits up after Kai’s murder. There is also sex galore. Each of the novel’s three narrators – Cam, Kai and TJ – engages in ‘random hook-ups’, with Cam in particular using them to dull his pain. Working in a Houston gay bar, he takes customers to a back-room every few hours. His partners include ‘delivery guys and lawyers and

Who pays the price for Boris governing without scrutiny?

Bailiff-enforced evictions have been banned during the pandemic. But landlords eager to give tenants the boot are finding ways around this rule. Since the start of lockdown, there has been an extraordinary increase in the number of tenants facing applications from landlords to control the terms under which people live in their homes.  Sometimes the playing of loud music is given as the reason. Other times it’s because the TV is left on when neighbours are trying to sleep. Perhaps they have had visitors who slammed the front door of their block. But while the circumstances are often mundane, the effect on those who find themselves kicked out can be

Covid has exposed the crisis in our courts

The other night I returned to my Cheshire home following a 500-mile round trip to the south of England to defend a client accused of drink driving. Along the way, I netted eight hours behind the wheel, one cheerless night in a deserted hotel and a surfeit of grisly service station sandwiches. All for the princely return of spending fruitless hours in a draughty waiting room — only to be told very late afternoon that the court had run out of time. How so? Three trials — including mine — had been listed for this particular courtroom. It only took one to get through the egg timer and monopolise the