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The Unbearable Sadness of Being: the plight of the Afghans

We are impotently watching Afghanistan sink into dark times, unable to save so many desperate people who are afraid for their lives. This week I witnessed heartbreaking scenes playing out in a Feltham community centre on the outskirts of London. The Afghanistan and Central Asian Association office was crowded with British Afghans, trying to rescue…
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Grief, loss and the ‘normalising’ of mental health

It’s good to talk, and it’s good that we are talking more about mental health, especially when loss is all around us. People have lost jobs, friends, freedom, experiences, and loved ones. Loss is inescapable but magnified by the prism of Covid-19. Loss, when and how it strikes, affects us all in different ways.  I…
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From the Kabul Café to the Taliban takeover: memories of Afghanistan

The catastrophe that we are now witnessing in Afghanistan was inevitable, appalling and horrific as it is. Sadly, the writing has been on the wall for a very long time. Despite that, the astonishing speed with which the Taliban has taken over the country has shocked everyone. Like me, many thousands of foreigners have spent…
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Ever tried to master French in lockdown? Putain de merde!

I was inspired, of course, by Madame Upanova, the long-legged, pointe-shoe wearing, gloriously elegant Ostrich danseuse of Walt Disney Fantasia fame. When better to train as a prima ballerina awaiting my Bolshoi debut than during lockdown? So, up and over I went. Let me tell you, those pirouettes and arabesques are a lot harder than Mme Upanova…
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If pigs can paint pictures like this, why don’t we treat them better?

We know pigs are smart. But they may be even more intelligent than we think. Researchers in the US have discovered that pigs can move computer joysticks with their snouts while watching a screen. Hamlet, Omelette, Ebony and Ivory showed “behavioural and cognitive flexibility”, report Professor Candace Croney and Dr Sarah Boysen, who trained the…
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Migration: the misunderstood crisis

What do we think about when we think about migration? I think about my grandparents, who emigrated from Europe to Canada, and myself — who made the opposite journey and moved from Toronto to London. Most of us would probably think of desperate Africans on rickety boats. That is, if we thought about migration at…
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