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Joan Bakewell: Next we'll be told to hurry up and die

When we move out of a house we are giving up more than a space. We are giving up our identity

Joan Bakewell: If I feel like having a cigarette, why shouldn't I?

I am going to start stockpiling cigarettes. I feel the need to have a small cache hidden around the house. I shall distribute them in out-of-the-way places in different rooms. I don't think it's appropriate to start putting them under the floorboards just yet. But the time may come... By the way, I'm a non-smoker!

Joan Bakewell: Science or literature? Surely what we need is both

It was surprising to find science carrying the day. Especially in such a literary place as Charleston, the home of Vanessa Bell, once the setting of Bloomsbury shenanigans and now home to one of the summer's finest literary festivals.

Joan Bakewell: No wonder the toffs are back with a vengeance

Bling is back and I'm glad to be one of the blingers. My personal favourite among jewellers is Argenta: those people with a stall on many a railway station and rows and rows of neat, trim and cheap earrings. I am a regular patron. It's so handy when you set out in a hurry and forget. Stop off at their stall and for £5 you go away with ears properly dressed for whatever meeting you hope to impress. Back home, they join other Argenta pairs holding their own among swinging ethnics and flashy sparklers from more rarefied retailers. I hope they do a roaring trade in Northampton, recently declared the bling capital of Britain.

Joan Bakewell: Giant white horses and the dangers of 'plop' art

An irresistible chance is now ours to renew the debate about public art. With the unveiling this week of plans for the Ebbsfleet Landmark, people must already be polishing their preferences.

Joan Bakewell: The silent victims of the technology revolution

I do well by the railways of this country. I travel off peak, have a senior railcard and have the kind of life that allows me to book in advance. I have sometimes had such cheap ticket deals that I fully expected to be arrested by the ticket inspector for trying to cheat the system. No serious complaints there, then. But minor criticism, yes.

Joan Bakewell: Please don't spoil my relationship with vitamins

I am one of the 12 million. I am one of those who each morning, line up a row of assorted tablets to supplement my diet. I even have one of those dinky little boxes with a compartment for each day's dose: it goes with me wherever I go, pops up on hotel breakfast tables, at railway buffets and at the homes of startled friends with whom I am spending the weekend. I explain I am trying to do myself a favour by staying fit as I get older. They can now flourish threatening headlines in my face and tell me I may be shortening my life. You just can't win.

Joan Bakewell: Abu Qatada's leave to stay is a human right too far

It is the reason why they come here, of course. People of evil intent who propagate pernicious doctrines of hate and issue videos and calls for violent action are aware that our legal system offers them as good a chance of fair treatment as they will get anywhere in the world.

Joan Bakewell: Why can't the Speaker's wife use a bus pass?

The Freedom of Information Act makes nosey parkers of us all. That, plus the activities of the TaxPayers' Alliance, offers us gossip and innuendo to match anything in Heat magazine. What is more, we have a stake in the whole, gorgeous story of the Commons Speaker Michael Martin's expenses. For a start, aren't we ourselves paying for this grotesque charade? And second, don't we identify in some small way with the squirming guilt of the named parties.

Joan Bakewell: Macmillan could afford to be optimistic in his day

Harold Macmillan is with us again, stalking the stage of the National Theatre in the totally convincing person of Jeremy Irons... the same long, lean gait, the bristling moustache, the body language displaying breeding and charm.

Joan Bakewell: Churches are the solution to the post office crisis

Among the wailing and gnashing of teeth over the threatened closure of post offices, two apparently irreconcilable forces are locked in conflict.

Joan Bakewell: Alzheimer's research can no longer be sidelined

It's good news for Terry Pratchett, Britain's highest-profile Alzheimer's sufferer. Alzheimer's syndrome is a disease of old age that could lie in wait for any of us and sometimes ambushes those who think of themselves as merely middle aged. Terry Pratchett is 59. The good news is that research is showing that cannabis slows down memory loss. The recent report from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has involved mice, but is now moving towards human trials.

Joan Bakewell: Let's see these soldiers' faces on our stamps

Sometimes an accidental convergence of events delivers an unexpected opportunity and it seems like just the right moment to make a move. Such a moment is now. It concerns art, the military and the Royal Mail. Who would have picked such an incongruous bunch out of the hat? But so it has happened.

Joan Bakewell: A university drop-out is a sign of a wider failure

It isn't meant to be like this! Students dropping out of university are defying all efforts and expenditure to persuade them to stay. What's going wrong?

Joan Bakewell: It's a child's right to experience the joy of creativity

It's easy enough to mock. The Prime Minister's proposals to bring five hours of culture a week into schools can be easily parodied, especially by those who believe themselves more culturally refined than lesser mortals.

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