Category Archives: History

Covid-19 and the grassroots

PANDEMICS hand power to the people. Leadership is necessary, for an optimal outcome, but essentially it’s up to us what happens next. It’s in times like these that grassroots political movements can come into their own – if they know how to adapt to the circumstances…

Sardine baitball by Sudokuhani – own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

This article first appeared in The Guardian on 15 May 2020. To continue reading, click here.

Will coronavirus lead to fairer societies? Thomas Piketty explores the prospect

THE French economist Thomas Piketty is the bestselling author of Capital in the Twenty-First Century (2013) and its follow-up, Capital and Ideology (2019), a sweep through 1,000 years of the history of inequality. Speaking to the Guardian, he said he had been thinking about the opportunities this pandemic may present to build fairer, more equal societies…

Thomas Piketty by B. Sutherton – own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

This article appeared in The Guardian on 12 May 2020. To continue reading, click here.

God’s perfume

IN THE EARLY 1990s, the then Mayor of Versailles, André Damien, discovered a folded paper in the drawer of an antique desk he had just bought at auction. When he opened the paper up, he saw that it had written on it a formula for what seemed to be a perfume, so he took it to Jean Kerléo, the founder of the Osmothèque – the world’s only conservatory of perfumes, which is also located in Versailles…

This article first appeared in British Vogue online on 13 April 2020. To continue reading, click here.

Closed borders and black weddings

PLAGUES – or, to use a more modern term, epidemics of infectious disease – pluck at our most primal fears. We have lived with them for at least 10,000 years, ever since our ancestors took up farming and built the first semi-permanent settlements. And they have always had the upper hand. They know us intimately, preying on our strengths – our sociability, our love of gossip – and turning them into weaknesses. They are always a step ahead, and once they are out, like the genie, we can’t get them back in. All we can do is limit the damage. So here we are again…

Poor advice

This article first appeared in The Guardian on 11 March 2020. To continue reading, click here.

 

Fake news and infectious disease

JUST over 100 years ago, the so-called Spanish flu killed an estimated 50 million people, in probably the worst pandemic the world has seen. It erupted in the northern hemisphere spring of 1918 and circled the globe over the next three years…

This article was first published in The Sunday Times on 1 March 2020 . To continue reading, click here (paywall – I know, the irony).