Why August's 'silly season' is good for the soul

  • 18 August 2018
  • From the section UK
Aerial image of parasols on a beach in Albania Image copyright Getty Images

Around the world, the phrase "mind the gap" is regarded as a British curiosity.

Thousands of "hilarious" mind the gap T-shirts have been stuffed into holiday luggage since the practical health and safety warning was introduced on London Underground in the late '60s.

It has found its way into countless songs, movies, books and video games, as well as a library of worthy reports warning of the dangers of some scandalous inequality.

But I don't believe we should mind our gaps. I think we should embrace and celebrate them.

It is the interstitial spaces in our lives, the bits of nothing found between somethings, the pauses and moments of silence: these are vital, not just for our society, but our souls.

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How super-rich tourism may help the planet

  • 9 August 2018
  • From the section Africa
North Island, Seychelles

On a remote tropical island in the Indian Ocean, a man in a woman's wig has been hiding in a bush for hours. Armed with an air rifle, he plans to kill the island's last three surviving specimens of an exotic bird.

This, unlikely as it might appear, is the current front line in a conservation revolution.

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Do people think heatwaves are un-British?

  • 1 August 2018
  • From the section UK
People sunbathing at the mixed bathing pond on Hampstead Heath, London Image copyright PA

How does Britain, known around the world for its famous grey skies and rain, react to a lengthy heatwave?

"Hallelujah," someone shouted, as a small boy ran into the street and started to dance.

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Can England become optimistic again?

  • 7 June 2018
  • From the section UK
Tower Bridge

The saccharine aroma of reminiscence pervades many an English front parlour. As mantel clocks tick, the faces of England stare regretfully through net curtains, yearning for yesterday.

Nostalgia, the old joke goes, ain't what it used to be. But in England it appears to be making a comeback, with half the country saying things were better in the past.

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What lies beneath England's allegiances and rivalries?

  • 5 June 2018
  • From the section UK
The cliffs of the Seven Sisters

Beneath the veneer of national identity, England is an elaborate tapestry of allegiances and rivalries.

For centuries, bureaucrats have drawn lines on the map without understanding the invisible ley lines of belonging that criss-cross the English countryside. There are deep loyalties to ancient counties, proud cities and towns, even legendary kingdoms.

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The English question: What is the nation's identity?

  • 3 June 2018
  • From the section UK
House covered in St George's flags Image copyright Getty Images

I spent St George's Day this year in Nottingham, among a large crowd bedecked in the red and white of their national saint. "Why can't we celebrate St George?" they asked me. "The Irish, Scots and Welsh have their national days. Why can't we English have ours?"

The irony was obvious. No-one had suggested they couldn't. Indeed, a huge St George's flag was draped across the town hall and police were good-naturedly marshalling hundreds of patriots to the main square. The lord mayor of Nottingham, in full regalia, had given the official send-off.

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Crossing Divides: Split British town fights back to foster tolerance

  • 23 April 2018
  • From the section UK
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Media captionCasey and Waj have forged a rare and deep friendship that cuts across Rotherham's ethnic divides

The virtue of tolerance is regarded as fundamental to the British character. We are taught that our respect for the values, ideas and beliefs of others is somehow written into our national DNA.

Indeed, the government has passed a law requiring teachers and other public servants to promote just this idea as a way to deal with the threat from terrorism.

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London killings: No easy answers to gun and knife crime

  • 5 April 2018
  • From the section UK
A forensic tent in Hackney Image copyright Getty Images

The deliberate killing of one human being by another is a crime that defies easy characterisation.

Among the more than 50 tragedies that make up the current spike in homicides in the capital this year are some that may be premeditated or gang-related, but most will be unpredictable acts of violence in moments of mental anguish, involving a victim and a perpetrator who are well known to each other - family disputes or an argument between friends.

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John Worboys case: Legal implications of the judgement

  • 28 March 2018
  • From the section UK
John Warboys Image copyright LNP

The High Court described it as unique: A "difficult, troubling case with many exceptional features".

But the conclusions from this successful judicial review of the Parole Board's decision to release John Worboys will echo across Parliament and the courts for months and years to come, as well as forcing their way into countless legal textbooks.

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How should we tackle the loneliness epidemic?

  • 11 February 2018
  • From the section UK
A woman sits alone on crowded steps Image copyright Getty Images

Cristiano Ronaldo has 120 million. Barack Obama has 53 million. Donald Trump has 24 million. I am - of course - talking about Facebook followers.

Is Donald concerned that Barack has twice as many cyber-mates as he does? Or does he take solace in the fact that Hillary Clinton only has 10 million?

Read full article How should we tackle the loneliness epidemic?