Features

abba bands

From ABBA to Pet Shop Boys: how bands got their names

May 28, 2020 11:40 am

The Ramones were paying tribute to Paul McCartney, who used the pseudonym ‘Paul Ramon’ when checking into hotels

tanzania

Why is the WHO so worried about Tanzania?

May 21, 2020 6:08 pm

For a start there is inadequate testing and almost no sharing of data

puttanesca

Is pasta puttanesca the perfect lockdown dish?

May 14, 2020 11:34 am

The dish hits, with masterly economy, all five ‘taste groups’

owl

Even the owl in my garden is self-isolating

May 7, 2020 1:32 pm

Tawnies are territorial and will defend up to 50 acres of land

galway

Is there any better place for an EU-subsidized arts festival than Galway?

May 6, 2020 3:04 pm

I hoped my flight would be canceled but we left right on time

furlough

How ‘furlough’ became mainstream

April 24, 2020 6:05 pm

Ben Jonson spelt it vorloff in recognition of its Dutch origin

housewife

Why ‘housewife’ is no more demeaning than ‘husband’

April 22, 2020 8:19 pm

‘Housewife’ meaning ‘woman in charge of a household’ was also sometimes pronounced ‘husif’. By the 16th century it was worn down to ‘hussy’

elbow

What do elbows have to do with fighting coronavirus?

April 12, 2020 10:39 am

Digging up reliable etymologies takes a lot of elbow grease

chesterton

The fight to save G.K. Chesterton’s home from demolition

April 12, 2020 10:29 am

A Londoner until the age of 35, Chesterton moved to Beaconsfield on a whim

walking

I’m walking round the country — in my back garden

April 9, 2020 9:54 am

This land used to be an orchard. These trees were here before I was here. They’ll be here after I’m gone

hospitals

In New York’s hospitals, we need all the help we can get

April 9, 2020 12:11 am

Conference rooms are turned into wards, wards have become intensive care units

hens

The oddest thing people are stockpiling? Hens

April 2, 2020 12:25 am

They are so overjoyed by first light that they make an infernal noise — even if you don’t have a cockerel

winston churchill work from home

How to work from home (according to Churchill, Einstein and Napoleon)

March 26, 2020 12:56 pm

As P.G. Wodehouse finished each page of a book he was writing, he would pin it to his office wall at a height indicating how good it was

autarkeia

How to be self-sufficient

March 19, 2020 1:46 pm

For Aristotle, and eventually Plato too, while personal autarkeia was an ideal, only a city-state could deliver it

harnden

A final farewell

March 17, 2020 4:06 pm

Some carefully chosen words about what it means to say goodbye

jewish joy

Joy is the Jewish way of defeating hate

March 17, 2020 11:49 am

Someone once summarized the main Jewish festivals in three sentences. ‘They tried to destroy us. We survived. Let’s eat’

pansexual

We’ve been pansexual for a while now

March 6, 2020 10:51 am

Like ‘television’, ‘pansexuality’ is a bastard form, founded half on a Greek word and half on a Latin one

keir starmer

What would a Keir Starmer Labour party look like?

February 27, 2020 12:13 pm

Expect some strategic ambiguity in the early stages

guinea

Where did it all go wrong in Guinea?

February 27, 2020 11:59 am

President Condé has begun to succumb to African Strongman Syndrome

brexit nanny

Le crunch: are the Brexit talks doomed before they begin?

February 26, 2020 11:38 pm

The EU and the UK are set for a bad-tempered first few meetings

gun

My favorite gun is the gun that will save my life

February 22, 2020 7:40 am

‘Any man with any strength should go to a .45’

bats

Why have so many of our recent viruses come from bats?

February 20, 2020 11:28 am

Coronavirus is far from the first disease they’ve passed on to us

parasite

Joan Collins: Parasite didn’t deserve to win Best Picture

February 20, 2020 11:16 am

It now seems that it is absolutely prohibited to say anything about anything that doesn’t conform with the proscribed mores of the politically correct majority

bloomberg

Can Mike Bloomberg’s billions make up for his personality?

February 19, 2020 11:24 pm

‘Mini Mike’ is the only candidate rich enough to intimidate the president

tergiversation

What is a ‘tergiversation’?

February 18, 2020 10:42 am

The Latin for ‘back’ is ‘tergum’