Blogs and Journalism

It’s time we tackled people’s ignorance about rural life

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How much more mature and sensible our culture would be if primary school children were taught about the countryside, preferably with regular nature walks in the company of a well-informed teacher. It may sound-old fashioned, even Blytonesque, but, if children...

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Misplaced smugness at the BBC

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It was one of those moments of quiet smugness at which the British excel. The director-general of the BBC had delivered the MacTaggart Lecture at the Edinburgh Festival, arguing that the BBC is more popular than ever with the general...

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Love and sex in song – why it helps to be French

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I’ve been thinking about song lyrics recently – or, rather, the translation of French song lyrics into English. The folk wisdom among serious translators is what, while French is the more natural language of romance and love, English is more...

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We need these brilliant obsessives

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  At a time when the careers of successful authors are as carefully marketed as those of politicians, it is good to be reminded now and then of the true nature of the literary life – egocentric, brutal, unreliable and...

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An open letter to Fifa’s inspectors

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Dear Fifa inspectors Welcome to the home of football! In what must be the highlight of your trip around the world to decide which country should be appointed host for the 2018 World Cup, you have arrived in England for...

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Hands off our public libraries

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There was once a very silly government minister who floated the idea that Britain's public libraries should be privatised. It was in the days of Margaret Thatcher when such talk was fashionable. Even so, the idea was quickly laughed out...

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Parish councils and a quiet revolution

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The dawning of this new age of happy liberation from the state (or should that be "miserable betrayal by the state"?) has provided few greater surprises than the suggestion that the parish council, that whiskery old joke beloved of sitcoms...

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Camping – the proper way to have a holiday

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Now that politicians vie with one another to prove the sweet ordinariness of their domestic lives, holidays have become competitive. Rather than do what they would like to do – sit by a billionaire's swimming pool in the sun –...

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