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Thursday 04 June 2009
The news that the graduate premium – the extra amount that someone earns from studying for a degree – is holding up will give heart to those who think that students should pay for their higher education. One of the arguments that Tony Blair and others made for introducing tuition fees and later the top-up fee was that students benefit financially from having a degree-level qualification. Their argument was pooh-poohed by those who argued that this graduate premium was being eroded by the fact that so many people were now going into higher education.
Monday 01 June 2009
Wednesday 06 May 2009
Friday 01 May 2009
Thursday 26 March 2009
Sunday 15 February 2009
Every so often a book comes in that I simply have to pilfer. Such a one is Alastair Lee's Pendle (Frances Lincoln £14.99), a photographic essay on Lancashire's Uluru, Pendle Hill. You might think that no one but a homesick Lancastrian would be interested in such an obscure topic – and I admit that I grew up with a magnificent view of the hill through my bedroom window – but Lee's Cézanne-like obsession with capturing and recording a rocky feature in all lights, conditions and weathers, make his quest a fascinating one.
Sunday 04 January 2009
Monday 24 November 2008
Sunday 16 November 2008
R&B honking and Afrobeat rhythms meet spiritual Coltrane/ Sanders-style Seventies free jazz. Ex-Sun Ra saxophonist Lancaster swapped Philly for Paris in the Nixon era, where this shockingly contemporary-sounding album was recorded.
Thursday 30 October 2008
For my birthday last Saturday, Jane bought me A Butler's Guide to Table Manners, written by a fellow called Nicholas Clayton, a member of the Guild of Professional English Butlers. Her inscription was " ...because even an expert needs a handbook", the affectionate but slightly waspish joke being that I have always been something of a sergeant major where our children's table manners are concerned.
Saturday 25 October 2008
We've got a stowaway in the garden. It came in a pot of Saruma henryi that Roy Lancaster gave me earlier this year after a visit to his garden. Squeezing up a couple of grass-like shoots and gladioli-like flowers just before we went on holiday, I wondered for a moment whether Roy had inadvertently given me something rare and precious. On sending a photo, he confirmed that the infiltrator was Gladiolus papilio, a variable species from the Transvaal. Despite competition from the saruma it still reached its mature height of one metre but will need planting out in open ground if it is to make a nice clump. The flowers (late summer to early autumn) are like small funnels with subtle shades of purple and yellow that marble to darker maroon, and gold on the lower petals giving the impression of a butterfly, hence the name. It needs cool, moist humus-rich soil in sun to thrive (it will colonise by underground runners) and a good mulch should see it safely through a UK winter.
Thursday 23 October 2008
Thursday 16 October 2008
Regardless of the deepening recession, corporate America is working its socks off to get the nation's suddenly impoverished consumers to part with their hard-earned dollars.
Saturday 20 September 2008
Thursday 18 September 2008
Arriving at Lancaster School in late April 2007, I met a frazzled-looking Helen Collins. As the head of music she was desperate to get the school singing but felt powerless against a tide of disinterest. So, she called me! It was a brave thing to do: asking for help and saying that you would benefit from professional advice takes confidence.
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Michael Gove determined to scrap the Human Rights Act – even if Scotland retains it
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