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Letters

Disastrous decisions Sir: One cannot but agree wholeheartedly with Lionel Shriver (‘This is not a natural disaster’, 16 May). Given the unremarked impact of other diseases which she mentioned, Covid-19 is small beer. The government set out on the right path with its herd immunity policy, but was bounced into

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Unsavoury bedfellows

Just after John Pearson finished writing The Profession of Violence, his celebrated biography of the Krays, both his and his agent’s officeswere broken into. Letters from Lord Boothby to Ronnie Kray had disappeared, as had a copy of the book’s manuscript. Pearson then received a telephone call from the high-powered

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Out of the dragon’s den

How will the world be different after coronavirus? Will everything return to the way it was or will there be lasting change? For this country, there is one thing that will clearly be different: the government’s approach to China. I understand that while Boris Johnson’s grand, integrated foreign policy review

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Garden leave

Every morning, like sun-seekers stampeding to get their towels on the sunbeds at a cheap Spanish hotel, it’s a race to the patio for my neighbours and me. Each of us in the line of terraced houses on the village green must try to be the first to get into

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The real deal – or not

One of the stranger things that happened in the period just before lockdown was the sudden disappearance of audiences from TV and radio shows. Late-night hosts told jokes to silent rooms in front of a white background, dutifully pausing for a laugh that never came; panel shows were broadcast without

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Barometer

Site test What’s on offer in the town of Barnard Castle? — Ruined 12th-century castle perched high above the Tees, built by Bernard de Balliol and later passed into the hands of Richard III, whose emblem appears above an inner window. — Bowes Museum: magnificent 19th-century French-style gallery built by

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Catastrophe

At the outset of lockdown I gave you my list of top mustn’t-watch films — that is, the ones that aren’t worth the bother — with the rider that when Cats is released digitally it will, however, likely be a must-watch mustn’t-watch. ‘I absolutely must watch this mustn’t-watch,’ you may

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From joy to dissolution

At the start of Elgar’s Second Symphony the full orchestra hovers, poised. It pulls back; and then, like a dam breaking, the music surges forward in wave upon wave of golden sound. ‘Rarely, rarely, comest thou, Spirit of Delight!’ writes Elgar, quoting Shelley, at the top of the score, and

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Puzzle no. 606

Tamas Fodor — Michael Adams, Hull 2018. White to play. One from the puzzles section of Smerdon’s book, which I witnessed myself. Adams’s last move, 60…Kf6-f7 set a trap. White’s next was a queen move that walked right into it. What was the losing move? Email answers to chess@spectator.co.uk by

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