The unkindest cut of all?

Critics say that male circumcision is unnecessary and barbaric. Advocates claim it has many benefits   The Times, 24 March 2008 Barbaric, mutilation, child abuse, freaks, nutters, obsessives. The language on both sides of the debate about infant male circumcision is not always temperate. Put together new-born boys, their penises, knives and two of

By | March 6th, 2008|Writing|0 Comments

Corporate communes

In the 1960s they shared Marxism, meals and love. Today's communards are more likely to be sharing profits Financial Times, 7 July 2007 They were the perfect homes for the hippy movement. Loosely structured and easy-going, communes in the late 1960s and early 1970s offered young people shelter, warmth, food and company without any of

By | July 6th, 2007|Writing|0 Comments

Where hunger throws a harsh light on indulgence

David Baker is taught an unexpected lesson at the easternmost point of the Americas            Financial Times, 25 November 2006 It was, I guess, with typical laidbackness that Brazil seemed to have lost the Easternmost Point of the Americas. We were driving north from Olinda, just inland from the spectacular north-east Brazilian

By | November 6th, 2006|Writing|0 Comments

‘I wouldn’t say I was a believer’

Despite a dispiriting experience as a nun, Karen Armstrong is happy to think deeply about God   Financial Times, 7 October 2006 Karen Armstrong is on a quest. Not that Britain's most popular writer about religion and spirituality wants everyone to find God. But she is worried that our western, secular world is

By | October 6th, 2006|Writing|0 Comments

When life keeps getting louder

Police sirens, thumping music, loud neighbours – noise is no longer 'the forgotten pollutant'         Financial Times, 19 August 2006 What noise can you hear right now? Birdsong? The buzzing of an insect against the windowpane? Wind rustling through leaves? Or is it a loud mobile-phone conversation in the street? A police

By | August 19th, 2006|Writing|0 Comments

Land of my fathers

It took David Baker 40 years to get to Israel, but there he finally found peace   Financial Times, 1 April 2006 When I was growing up in the north-east of England in the 1960s, we had a little blue and white collecting tin on the shelf in our hallway. Printed on one side was

By | April 6th, 2006|Writing|0 Comments

Sins of immersion

Olympic Man, Floral Woman and unwashed bodies all help to fuel lane rage at the swimming pool Financial Times, 17 September 2005 It is meant to be relaxing. You jump in the water, adjust your goggles and push off for a few lengths after a hard day at work. Everything's going, well, swimmingly, and

By | September 17th, 2005|Writing|0 Comments

Full moon by the sea

For centuries, Hoi An has been a well-loved jewel of Vietnam           Financial Times, 17 September 2005 Sometimes when you travel you have the greatest luck, and the timing of our arrival in Hoi An, a picturesque town about halfway between Saigon and Hanoi on the Vietnamese coast, was one

By | September 6th, 2005|Writing|0 Comments

Two wheels good

Bicycles are cheap, healthy and good for the environment. So why do so many motorists hate them? Financial Times, 20 November 2004 The bicycle is making a comeback. Every weekday morning nearly 200,000 people cycle to work in London, up 23 per cent on last year's figures and, according to Transport for London, still

By | November 6th, 2004|Writing|0 Comments

Scallops in the morning

After Enrica Rocca's Borough Market Day, shopping, cooking and eating will never be the same     Financial Times, 4 September 2004 "Don't eat too much before you come because by the end of the day, you will be stuffed." Enrica Rocca is making the final arrangements for her Borough Market Day, an inspired

By | September 6th, 2004|Writing|0 Comments