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After fondly imagining that the free, open and accountable society was merely being gradually encroached on by military and commercial interests, the Guardian revelations over the last three days about the actions of the US National Security Agency seem to have shocked us awake from our dream to find that we are already living within […]

London’s Design Museum is doing something unusual by mounting an (admittedly slim) exhibition this summer which instead of the obsession with form and function in individual design objects, brings design, architecture and acute social analysis together in a ‘design fiction’ about a future divided UK. The divisions in this kingdom are not political, but about […]


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Coming out of the Manet exhibition we meet in the lift a couple who have just come out of the parallel Royal Academy show in a neighbouring set of galleries. “Much better than the Manet”, they say, “Most of the big paintings weren’t there”. Well it is true that the exhibition showed mostly the unfamiliar, […]

Future Perfect?

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In June 2011 a Hungarian physicist friend, staying with us in London, invited me to tag along to his meeting at UCL. The meeting, he explained, was about building a huge new IT project that could compete for EU ‘Flagship’ funding of €1billion over 10 years, funded equally between the European Commission and national sources. […]

The fact that the Prince of Wales is permitted to intervene widely in the process of government without any subsequent public accountability is an affront to democracy.  Doing so as, in Dominic Grieve’s words, “a preparation for Kingship”, it is close to treasonable.

I was already born before the last London Olympics but was too young to remember anything about them.  My first Games memories are of Helsinki where the fact but not the form of some kind of anthem or fanfare are still in my mind in that funny sense that you know something that you nevertheless […]

Last week nine men were found guilty of luring a number of mid-teen girls by plying them with drink and pretended affection until they found themselves by degrees recruited for a sex ring which the men operated in and near Rochdale.  The men were Asian, and nominally Muslim, as were their ‘clients’ for sexual services.  […]

England expresses itself for me, in music, countryside and ale, and the unique if heterogeneous institution in which English ale is served, the pub.  This weekend was much about the English countryside, that man-made assemblage of natural elements, and something also about pubs and beers, the whole held together with history, modern and ancient.   Some […]

Later today my team plays a match that will determine whether they get back into the Premier League after seven years which saw them falling to the third level of English football.  I shall be so paralysed with despair or delirium when the result is known I thought that I should provide myself a cautionary […]

A Greek friend has written in support of yesterday’s second Greek bailout, believing that it will  keep Greece in the single currency and giving it the chance to institute deep structural and attitudinal changes. I do of course agree with the need for a culture shift in Greece away from clientalism and towards more pragmatic, […]