No novel, not even Anna Karenina or A la recherche du temps perdu, is ever as good as the one in your head
By Sean French - 14 August 13:00

A new biography of Edmund White, which has just been published, reveals that he works for only one hour a day. Bastard. Graham Greene used to write exactly 300 words every day. When he had reached 300, he just stopped, even if he was in the middle of a sentence.

Brixton: home to summer leagues and guns
By Darcus Howe - 14 August 13:00

There are mixed signals coming through the summer heat in Brixton. A fortnight ago, a young man in hot pursuit of another fired a volley of bullets into a crowd queuing to get into a club on Peckham High Street.

A pane of glass separated my feverishly erotic video from the courtyard wedding
By Laurie Taylor - 07 August 13:00

The receptionist at my Amsterdam hotel had clearly graduated in catering studies with at least an Upper Second.

My iMac is a beautiful object, but it should be beaten and scratched until it begs for mercy
By Sean French - 07 August 13:00

In December 1899, Rudyard Kipling decided he needed his own car, so he hired one. It cost three and a half guineas a week.

Caribbean news gets more ghastly by the week
By Darcus Howe - 07 August 13:00

Channel 4's Caribbean Summer season hit the broadcasting world with a bang, woven as it is around the Test cricket series between England and the West Indies.

Labour claims its actions are lawful while it bombs Iraq, starves its people and sells arms to corrupt states
By John Pilger - 07 August 13:00

''All governments are liars," wrote the great American muckraker I F Stone, "and nothing they say should be believed." He exaggerated, although not by much.

Paul Routledge
By Paul Routledge - 31 July 13:00

The exigencies of column-writing being as they are, this is the last time I shall bring you gossip from Westminster until late September, when the party conference season will be upon us. Even that isn't the same. Both the Labour and TUC conferences are wrapping up a day early.

Dress up as an accident victim and you can have an excellent conversationabout a new library
By Laurie Taylor - 31 July 13:00

It was the great Cynthia Payne who once memorably observed that it was impossible to get any sense out of men until they had been "de-spunked".

Did you think the band 10cc were named after an ejaculation of semen? The truth is on the internet
By Sean French - 31 July 13:00

In last week's diary, I narrowly avoided making a fool of myself - all right, all right, a fool of myself again. At the very last minute, I was alerted that the transcript of obscene out-takes from Have I Got News For You was actually a fake.

Staines is in Middlesex, but really it's just like Brixton
By Darcus Howe - 31 July 13:00

A committed conservationist, Barbara Hunt, accused her local council, Spelthorne Council, in Staines, Middlesex, of transforming one of the town's main streets into a "messy" Brixton. She describes her area thus: "[Like Brixton] the town centre has become very run-down.

The New Statesman Profile - Vladimir Putin
By John Lloyd - 31 July 13:00

Liberals fear a Pinochet-style regime; but Russia's new leader is their best hope. Vladimir Putin pr

The north-east, like other Labour heartlands, has stopped voting. It is not apathy, it is anger and it is a strike
By John Pilger - 24 July 13:00

I first went to Murton, a Durham pit town, just before Christmas 1973. The National Union of Mineworkers had arranged that I spend a night in F32, a seam that was not on the visitor's run, and lay a third of a mile beneath the town.

I saw a long cloakroom queue, but a young man could see emergent signs of resistance
By Laurie Taylor - 24 July 13:00

Everything was going swimmingly at the New Statesman party until I decided to wander away from the group of seasoned old buffers with whom I had spent the first two hours of the evening and found myself pushed against the wall of the Serpentine Gallery by an enthusiastic young man with

The New Statesman Profile - The package holiday
By Barbara Gunnell - 24 July 13:00

Though it has now become a ritual for 17 million people, Thomas Cook's brainchild may be on its last

We need to be reminded that, as Montaigne said, no matter how high a man sits, he still sits on his own arse
By Sean French - 24 July 13:00

A couple of days ago, I drove past a second-hand shop called "Junk and Disorder", which raised a smile. But I always wonder what it would be like to work in a shop with a name like that for month after month, as the joke wore thinner and thinner.

Paul Routledge
By Paul Routledge - 24 July 13:00

Who, it is being asked in the Commons bars, would have an interest in upstaging Chancellor Gordon Brown and his comprehensive spending review? The first editions of the broadsheet papers on Monday 17 July led with previews of Ir'n Broon's calculating generosity.

Why do we have to pay £3m just to have a New Year party?
By Darcus Howe - 24 July 13:00

We are not going to have a whale of a time at London's New Year's Eve party. It is going to be a scaled-down shindig - half a party. Don't be surprised if there is no party at all. And why? The police are asking us Londoners to pay a punitive cost of £3m for extra policing on the night.

It's time for Blair to stand up for dads everywhere
By Cristina Odone - 24 July 13:00

The photo of the handbag was splashed across the Telegraph: the symbol of Mrs T's political matriarchy had been auctioned off for charity and fetched £100,000.

If I spend ten minutes a week with my kids, that's a big advance on the traditional, middle-class nil minutes
By Sean French - 17 July 13:00

A new British survey has suggested that, during the working week, professional men spend an average of ten minutes with their children. That's per week, not per day. This really doesn't give you time to get much done.

Ken's ass need fear nothing from Trevor
By Darcus Howe - 17 July 13:00

Trevor Phillips, the chairman of the Greater London Assembly, in a rare outburst, threatened the new Mayor, Ken Livingstone, saying that he intended "to kick ass". Ken, he said, is building a Kenocracy. He, Trevor, seeks the interests of the people of London.

The New Statesman Profile - The Germans
By David Lawday - 17 July 13:00

At last, they are undergoing a real personality change: the <em>Volk</em> is doomed and Hitler just

Paul Routledge
By Paul Routledge - 17 July 13:00

Change and dismay are all around. Tony Blair's bad week is prompting unfavourable comparisons with his predecessor. The ex-chancellor Norman Lamont is telling anyone who will listen: "I never thought he would turn out so much like John Major."

Another week, another new novel. Which character am I this time?
By Laurie Taylor - 17 July 13:00

Another week, another book launch. This week, it was Jill Westwood's first novel, Holding the Centre. I can't say that my toast flew out of my hand with excitement when the invitation from Axon Press turned up on my breakfast table.

Do people who move to the country expect cheery morris dancers and rosy-cheeked milkmaids to call on them?
By Sean French - 10 July 13:00

Deborah Bosley's New Statesman article a couple of weeks ago, about the horrors of living in the country, certainly touched a nerve. People have been queuing up ever since to scream: "Me too, I'm also being driven into alcoholism by the tediousness of rural England."

Let battle commence between elephant and mouse
By Darcus Howe - 10 July 13:00

A friend was uneasy about my condemnation - swift, he called it - of Lord Harris of Haringey in his capacity as chair of the police committee in the Greater London Assembly.

The New Statesman Profile - The English Friday night
By Jason Cowley - 10 July 13:00

In an old market town, young men vomit on their own shoes and shout "big tits" at the passing girls.

Cathy Freeman's broad Olympic smile is being used to conceal a multitude of Australia's original sins
By John Pilger - 10 July 13:00

My flight to Sydney was in a Qantas aircraft painted entirely in Aboriginal motifs. The airline calls it the "Wunala Dreaming" and offers a scale model in its duty-free catalogue.

Clear off out of my way - I'm on the verge of becoming a major literary figure
By Laurie Taylor - 10 July 13:00

I'd lay odds that it was two-thirds of the way through the book and halfway down the left-hand page, but I'm still unable to turn up the paragraph in Martin Amis's superb Experience in which he talks about "writers" being people who are always hoping that everyone else will very shortly

Paul Routledge
By Paul Routledge - 10 July 13:00

What is the explanation for Alastair Campbell's persistent bad temper? As best I understand these things, he is engaged in a vicious battle with Peter Mandelson, the undisgraced Northern Ireland Secretary, for influence over the PM.

Paul Routledge
By Paul Routledge - 03 July 13:00

The scene is Darlington station. The time is Friday morning. There are lots of policemen and dogs (none of them for petting) about, plus a number of government limousines.

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