One of the liveliest women journalists ever produced in Wales, Hafina Clwyd wrote perceptively and sometimes provocatively in both Welsh and English, often focusing on personalities making the news but sometimes on topics nearer her heart such as broadcasting, the press and cultural matters. Her weekly column in the Western Mail, the "national newspaper of Wales", was always worth reading, as was her radio and television column in Y Cymro, the weekly Welsh-language newspaper. Some of her most entertaining pieces, deliciously waspish, caused sparks to fly, but the reader was always left with the impression that she meant precisely what she said and was prepared to stand by it. This taste for controversy and a willingness to raise the hackles of the pompous and complacent went hand-in-hand with a more academic trait in her personality which found expression in her keen interest in local history and genealogy.
"I find," says Maggie with a smile, "that I take more and more interest in worms." Maggie Brennan is a horticultural volunteer working in a garden at the edge of Charing Cross Hospital, west London, and she is sitting with me, taking a brief break on this sunny cold day, trying to explain just what it is about gardening that she loves. "When you're gardening, you can really be in the moment," she adds. "Not worrying about the past, and what you did then, or fretting about the future. Lots of people don't really live in the present at all. Gardening brings you right back to the present, and centres you there."
Rail passengers were urged today to take action in the fight for fairer train fares.
Former head of Polly Peck held for hours at a London police station after allegedly failing to abide by his curfew
In this bout of interesting weather I am minded to recall a seriously deprived childhood.
One virtue of the 1960s: the dreadful term "staycation" was a good four decades from being coined. At the time, mind, the majority of Brits had no option but to holiday at home. Even though the package-holiday industry was expanding rapidly, the government did its utmost to keep us at home with a limit on overseas spending of just £50. So the best way to travel vicariously was to visit exotic locations in Britain that distilled the essence of Abroad and served it up to the passer-by.
The parents of a young British woman dying of cancer have been told by the Home Office they can no longer care for their daughter and must leave the country.
Whitehall is more than a place of high politics – it also has a notable history of providing luxurious digs to eminent guests. Once upon a time, behind the now traffic-clogged Victoria Embankment, there stood the original Scotland Yard. One explanation of its name has it that, prior to the Acts of Union in 1707, Scottish royalty had a residence there reserved for state visits. (The site later hosted the first headquarters of the Metropolitan Police, where less regal guests were temporarily accommodated.) Scotland Yard was part of the Palace of Whitehall, home to English monarchs including Henry VIII and Charles I – both of whom died here. After fire destroyed the palace in 1698, the area was rebuilt with grand, governmental buildings, including a French renaissance-style chateau called Whitehall Court.
The Independent's Great Art series
A powerful double act has hit the West End. Simon Tait meets Nica and Max, aka Nimax