Johnnie Kerr

It is easy being green

The problem with going green, I’m told, is that it often means spending a great deal of money on lots of equipment that could at any moment be rendered obsolete. When it comes to renewable energy, scepticism abounds. But the outcome of this cynicism is that our efforts to be greener have been incremental at

Notes on… Skiing in Austria

I have spent a week of every winter of my life with my family in Zürs, a small village in Arlberg, Austria. It isn’t at all the most famous resort in the region — with fewer slopes than Lech and a quieter nightlife than St. Anton — nevertheless, it possesses a quality that brings most

Travel special – Scottish borders: On the edge

It’s odd, but most of the English faces we see in our wee corner of the Scottish Borders are merely ‘stopping’ for a night or two on their way north. What is the point, they wonder, in driving all this way only to settle a hair’s breadth past that gaudy ‘Welcome to Scotland’ sign? If

Travel Extra: First steps on skis

When I was just starting out on the slopes, a slip of a boy with nothing but training skis and a dream, there were a number of issues I wish someone had warned me about: 1. Don’t let your mother kit you out The piste is really just a massive catwalk. I look all right

In the middle of the march

Walking through Parliament Square this afternoon, you’d be forgiven for wondering whether some kind of bomb threat had been made on Westminster Palace. The fleets of police vans and hoards of fluorescent-jacketed officers seemed absurdly disproportionate to the motley pickets of public sector strikers gathered serenely outside parliament’s gates. ‘Actually, I shouldn’t be working today,’

Heath on Heath

‘I don’t know why I became a cartoonist,’ says Michael Heath. ‘I had no education during the war, so when I was twelve and war ended, I couldn’t read or write like children now. I suppose I sort of expressed myself by drawing.’ He is sitting in the conference room at The Spectator, surrounded by

The policies behind your energy bills

It may be a week old, but last Monday’s episode of Panorama really is worth putting half-an-hour aside for, if you haven’t seen it already. Its subject was energy prices, and it raised some very urgent concerns about the government’s policies in that area. You can watch it on the BBC site, but here’s a

A broad church

The protesters outside St Paul’s are united in polite disagreement It’s really not clear why the doors to St Paul’s had to be closed. Perhaps the church will have concocted a reasonable explanation by the time it’s all over, but after an afternoon walking around the protesters’ camp, it’s hard to imagine that they pose

A most unlikely hero

What is it about George Smiley that makes him translate so well onto the screen? The man doesn’t fight, he doesn’t gamble, and he barely seems to notice women (apart from the wife who continually cuckolds him) — in fact the only hobby that appears to brighten him up a bit is a homely interest