Features

houdini magicians

American magicians in London

August 2, 2020 1:49 pm

In 2003, David Blaine spent 44 days in a plexiglass box suspended above the River Thames. It was amazing, yes, but it wasn’t magic

francis fukuyama

Francis Fukuyama does not read your tweets

July 28, 2020 3:41 pm

‘I think it makes us lazy thinking about removing a statue, rather than creating a social policy that will materially improve conditions for marginalized groups’

slippers

Slip tease

July 12, 2020 11:15 am

Slipper selfies reveal our work-from-home style

lockdown

We’re spending lockdown defending a family of mice

July 9, 2020 8:01 am

You can tell you’ve been locked down in Texas for too long

stir crazy

What does it mean to go ‘stir crazy’?

July 4, 2020 8:38 am

Only now I discover my assumptions about that phrase were wrong

chess

Online chess is the ultimate lockdown sport

July 2, 2020 9:43 am

Unlike real life, the possibilities are never-ending

fans

Where’s the fun in soccer without the fans?

June 25, 2020 9:55 am

At dull matches, the fans are the best thing

robert baden-powell

Was Robert Baden-Powell a Nazi sympathizer?

June 18, 2020 11:40 am

The Scouts went on to help resettle Jewish children saved in the Kindertransport

gaslight

Can you gaslight a whole minority?

June 18, 2020 11:27 am

I fear gaslight is dangerously close to meaning ‘disagree with us’ or ‘suggest that we are mistaken’

statues slavery

Why stop at destroying statues?

June 17, 2020 11:54 pm

The ancient world was one in which there were laws, but no concept of human rights, or of the sanctity of life

cupcake

Arise, the cupcake

June 14, 2020 3:39 pm

It’s the Taylor Swift of snacks

knee

Where did ‘taking a knee’ come from?

June 11, 2020 3:47 pm

The football tactic is also known as the genuflect offense

field cloth gold

The festival where Henry VIII and Francis I made their peace

June 11, 2020 3:29 pm

On the 500th anniversary of the Field of the Cloth of Gold

odd

How ‘odd’ became normal

June 6, 2020 11:12 am

Odd is Scandinavian in origin, Viking if you like

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