Do you hate mankind?

I have been having a discussion with a friend about the use of the word mankind. She claims that it makes women “invisible” and should be abandoned in favour of humankind or humanity – or, if not abandoned, used only…

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Why so down on Downton?

Julian Fellowes, writer of the ITV drama series Downton Abbey, has apparently become dispirited by the amount of criticism he has received. This ranges from anachronisms (yellow lines and TV aerials) and plagiarism (sugar mistaken for salt; flower show contretemps)…

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The fatal snail

I was pulled over by the police on the A17 a few days ago. “You haven’t done anything wrong,” they said – which shows how little they know me. “Just talk to that nice lady over there. If you want…

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Failing fire

In these soft, grey, collapsing January days where dawn and dusk meet on main street at noon too weak, too low to draw their weapons and life seeps away like air from a pricked balloon, the fire fails: faint flames…

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Schools to love

The vicar in the new TV sitcom Rev is slightly less of a caricature than those we have become familiar with in the past. But he struggles with similar worldly issues, from abusive builders to colleagues with dubious driving forces….

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Alien world of letters

Letters pages in newspapers are strange and alien worlds, dominated by “facts that everybody knows” and answers to questions no-one has asked. In short, they are political places, and I feel uneasy in them. I occasionally cross their borders, but…

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