London society

Why was an erroneous graph used to justify the second lockdown?

Two stories are emerging from the Covid Inquiry: one that it wants to tell and one that it does not. The first is a tale of foul-mouthed incompetence, of which there’s no shortage of evidence dredged from the private messages of the main actors. The more important story can be found in the submitted statements – hundreds of pages of thoughts, documents and reflections. They raise an important question which Baroness Hallett’s inquiry shows little interest in answering: was lockdown based on a false premise, conjured up by poorly drafted models? Only later did No. 10’s head of data find out that this false graph had been shown on national

A smart take on literary London: Dead Souls, by Sam Riviere, reviewed

Sam Riviere has established himself as a seriously good poet who doesn’t take himself too seriously: his first collection, 81 Austerities, opened with an account of how he blew all the arts funding money awarded him, and his second, Kim Kardashian’s Marriage, is the only appearance of that august celebrity’s name in the distinguished Faber livery. Now we have his first ‘proper’ novel, following some experimental prose works. ‘Of course,’ as John Cheever wrote, ‘one never asks is it a novel? One asks is it interesting’, and Dead Souls is definitely interesting. It also fits the pattern of the poetry: this is a funny, even silly, but smart take on