The police

The joy of short stories in these taxing times

From time to time, usually when things are quiet, the government brings on the dancing girls. David Cameron made Carol Vorderman the celebrity Head of Maths, Prue Leith was wheeled out to revolutionise hospital catering (again), and Mary Portas was to breathe life, excitement and renewed prosperity into our dying high streets. Nothing ever happens, of course, but perhaps Covid-19 does present a real opportunity. In the past 20 years I have watched several small towns change radically. Shops selling things people actually needed — meat, fish, fruit and veg, bread and butter, ironmongery, postal and banking services — have closed. In their place have come coffee shops, delis, estate

The online museums you’ll never want to leave

‘We don’t talk about the war.’ Yet those of my generation and older reference it daily. The coronavirus is an unseen enemy but for every-one not in military service, so were our past enemies — Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia — invisible mainly because the mainland was never physically invaded by any of them, so the only sightings were on the newsreels. All we can see of the virus is that horrible furry ball with round-ended spikes sticking out of it, which is what it looks like under a microscope, but this is still a war, the same as any other. We were not actually quarantined then but travel was both