A single scratch of the head is enough to make normally sane parents panic. Their fear ... headlice.
Only a few weeks into the new school year, and far too many children (and some unfortunate parents) will already be suffering from the dreaded lice attack. Gone are the days of the nit nurse, and also gone are the days when lice affected only a small number of children. New research suggests that between 10 and 20 percent of Britain’s 4 million primary school children will have headlice at any one time — up from around one per cent in the 1980s.
On a cold afternoon in December 1960, WPC Tegwen Curl received a call to proceed to West Heath Court flats in Golders Green. When she arrived, she was greeted by an unlikely scene — a group of middle-aged, mostly Jewish neighbours crowded around an abandoned baby no more than four days old, lying on the floor.
The baby was not crying, and although very cold he had been recently fed and was healthy. The social worker assigned to the case reported that the child had probably not been delivered by a midwife — there were no records of him being born in hospital.
The American West was built by settlers carving a life in the New World. Over a century later, that pioneering spirit survives in the form of 39-year-old Daniel Ramos. But rather than pushing open a new frontier, Ramos is blazing a trail back to a very old world, reconnecting with his identity as Anusim, one of the lost Jews of Texas.
It is Friday night and more than 100 people are crammed around three long trestle-tables singing grace after meals. A Shabbat meal of soup, challah, hummus and roast chicken has just been eaten, and the atmosphere is jovial as the rabbi delivers the after-dinner speech. But this is no ordinary Friday night at your local community centre. This group of Jews is eclectic — young and old, Orthodox and Reform, and hailing from many different countries. These are the Jews of Beijing.
Both the lollypop lady and the baker on his delivery round saw it from the street — visible through a bedroom window was an 11-year-old girl, floating, it seemed, in mid-air. The story of the Enfield Poltergeist has continued to intrigue ghost-hunters since the first reports some 30 years ago of a single mother and her children being afflicted by apparently unexplained phenomena in their north London council house.
On 1 September 1939, as His Majesty’s armed forces made their final preparations for war, another section of the population was also getting ready to mobilise. Under a government scheme, a 735,000-strong army of schoolchildren was to be sent from the soon-to-be-bombed cities, industrial towns and ports to the safety of the British countryside.
One of London’s leading literary agents recently suggested that, “intelligent, well-written fiction is in a state of crisis”. The big publishing conglomerates are not interested so much in the state of the culture as in what they perceive to be the state of the market. And what they perceive is that “pulp” sells and “literary fiction” — in which emotions and ideas are imaginatively conveyed in well-constructed sentences — does not.
Next year is the football World Cup and we all know what is going to happen should England qualify. They will struggle through the group phase before losing (almost certainly on penalties) in the quarter finals. The nation will, as usual, be disappointed — but, according to football writer Simon Kuper, we should not be.
In a new book, Why England Lose and Other Curious Phenomena Explained, Kuper and co-author Stefan Szymanski apply economics, statistics and psychology to football topics and come up some surprising conclusions.