Blogs and Journalism

How to be a perfect gentleman

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These are confusing times for the English gentleman. Everything in his background has told him that manners are what help define him, but in this sharp-elbowed, aggressively egalitarian world, he has discovered that old-fashioned niceness is no longer quite enough....

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Must love be all around?

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I so so love you. With five unlikely little words, uttered within seconds of being elected, the new leader of the Labour Party showed the world that he was a sympathetic kind of guy who was prepared to let his...

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A celebrity’s guide to impersonating yourself

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In a cynical, marketing-crazed world, it is probably absurd to be distracted by three words on a promotional poster.    All the same, one or two people might have registered the mildest start of surprise at seeing a quote which...

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To Claire Rayner – who fought back

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    The last time I spoke to Claire Rayner was when she rang me this summer. It was in the aftermath of the General Election, and Claire was contacting friends to encourage them (“encourage” is probably in an inadequate...

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The danger in attacking Mr Brock

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There are few certainties in British political life right now, but here is one. If the government follows through on its recent promise to allow the culling of badgers in areas infected by bovine TB, it will quickly find itself...

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Stand up for swearing

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The much-loved author Alexander McCall Smith is concerned about moral pollution. He believes that swearing blights society, representing "casual aggression" and, under certain circumstances, "a form of sexual intrusion". Coincidentally, what McCall Smith calls "strong language" has been on my...

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Spare a thought for Rooney

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Anyone who prefers to believe, with Woody Allen, that there is no such thing as bad sex would be advised to avoid a recent interview with one of the two women who have found fame by selling their accounts of...

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The quiet dignity of Mr Franzen

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The famous novelist is making his promotional video. Shortly, his face will be on the front of Time magazine, his book praised to the heavens and at No 1 in the American bestseller list. "This might be a good place...

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A night of football violence: ugly, noisy – and exciting

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The clatter of  police horses's hoofs on tarmac, the wail of sirens, the throaty roar of English malehood up for a fight, alarmed bystanders scuttling into side-streets for safety: it was not just any old midweek evening game of football....

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Is this really a journey to fulfilment?

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Recent publishing history suggests that there is good money to be made from telling women how to change their lives. In the 1980s, Shirley Conran surfed a great wave of female dissatisfaction with her bestseller Superwoman. It was no longer...

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