Big Society

It’s not just the landscape that snow changes, but a whole outlook on life

The dog has gone slightly mad. Astonished every morning that her territory has been transformed into a sparkling white playground, she bounds through the snow, her nose acting as a snowplough. Normally rather ladylike when it comes to creature comforts, she ignores the cold, the wet, the fact that balls of ice hang from her […]

Hands off our public libraries

There was once a very silly government minister who floated the idea that Britain’s public libraries should be privatised. It was in the days of Margaret Thatcher when such talk was fashionable. Even so, the idea was quickly laughed out of court. The minister’s political career was over. Modern-minded Tories do things differently. They consult. […]

Parish councils and a quiet revolution

The dawning of this new age of happy liberation from the state (or should that be “miserable betrayal by the state”?) has provided few greater surprises than the suggestion that the parish council, that whiskery old joke beloved of sitcoms like The Vicar of Dibley, will play an important part in the great revolution to […]

Libraries – and an elephant called Google

High passions and occasional dottiness are never far away when public libraries are under discussion. Earlier in the year, I wrote a light-hearted blog which induced an attack of the vapours in Ed Vaizey, the shadow Culture Secretary. Vaizey is now the Mr Big of libraries in the government, and his department has recently released […]

The recesssion turns us into new people

Anyone looking for a happy, escapist view of recession and unemployment should skip along to the Vaudeville Theatre in London where a revival of Neil Simon’s 1971 play The Prisoner of Second Avenue has just opened. The storyline may be wafer-thin but there are one or two quite good jokes in the play, and excellent […]

The Golden Age of Grumps

The air is thick with semi-comical expletives as another writer and performer advances his career by playing the grumpiness game. Promoting his new book, Anger Management for Beginners, Giles Coren granted the Independent on Sunday’s Matthew Bell an interview which consisted of a minute’s worth of swearing about publishers, publicists and his busy, busy life […]

The New Politics – what exactly does it mean? An exclusive introduction…

It’s exciting. It’s nothing less than a revolution in the way this country is run. But what exactly is this New Politics we hear so much about? To guide us through the tumultuous political future of Britain, when a wind of change – smelling faintly of Vince Cable’s shirt at the end of a busy day […]