Colin Greenwood

The power behind The Few: Rolls-Royce’s Merlin engine

Eighty years ago this summer Britain was facing its greatest moment of peril as Göring’s Luftwaffe attacked airfields, cities and convoys in a prelude to invasion. Nazi plans for us included all able-bodied men being sent to slave labour camps on the Continent. Thanks to the bravery of the RAF and the brilliance of their

Would you kill for a cup of coffee?

In the winter of 1939, at the San Francisco Golden Gate trade fair, an advertorial film called Behind the Cup told the story of El Salvadorean coffee, from seed to cup. America was the world’s biggest consumer, drinking nearly 60 billion cups a year. It opened with a picturesque image of local Indians in traditional

First-class air mail

Growing up as a rootless army brat in bases home and abroad, I would listen in appalled delight to my parents’ record of Tom Lehrer singing ‘Poisoning pigeons in the park’: ‘When they see us coming the birdies all try and hide/ but they still go for peanuts, when coated in cyanide.’ Now, I have

‘God has abandoned us’

At a dinner recently I was told the story of a Canadian billionaire (now defined in banking circles as someone withmore than $500 million in liquid assets) who is building an escape destination from the oncoming climate apocalypse: an ersatz Versailles, with two runways, deep in the thawing Canadian tundra. Four hundred years earlier, the

A pawn in a deadly game

On 7 November 1938, the 17-year-old Herschel Grynszpan walked into the German embassy in Paris. Claiming to have secret papers, he was shown into the office of an embassy secretary, Ernst vom Rath. Drawing a tiny revolver — the price tag still attached from that morning’s purchase —  he fired five shots, shouting: ‘You’re a

Frozen in time

In May 1845, HMS Erebus and her sister ship HMS Terror set sail for the Arctic, never to be seen again. Erebus, named after a Greek god of darkness, was herself cast into oblivion for the next 170 years, until she was found in 2014, by sonar, submerged off the Arctic coast of Canada. Immediately