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The possibility that steel making might end at Port Talbot in South Wales has touched a national nerve. The seemingly relentless loss of heavy manufacturing capacity over the decades since oil prices quadrupled in 1973-74 has affected us far more than I think we realise.

A third of the way through the year, the media have got it into their heads that more famous people than usual are dying. I can hardly think this is true. As with other fairly random statistics, bunches sometimes seem to form.

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28 April 2016 | by Jonathan Tulloch
Sparrowhawks are nesting in our neighbour’s larch again. You can hear them halfway down the village. Is this why the smaller birds, for a second year running, are showing no interest in the bird boxes?

Whether you are a royalist or a republican, or somewhere in between the two, there’s no denying that in the way she has fulfilled her duties the Queen has been a shining example of a life given in service.

A strange and wonderful thing happened at Easter – and I find I am still thinking about it, thinking towards the future as well as casting back to the events – so I am going to write about it. In my parish we celebrated the first two liturgies of the Triduum without a priest.

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21 April 2016 | by Jonathan Tulloch
The newt rose from the depths of the garden pond like a cosmonaut drifting weightlessly through space.

In 2009 the Catholic Church’s International Theological Commission proposed a fundamental change to the way the Church regarded natural law. It could not be presented “as an already established set of rules that impose themselves a priori on the moral subject”, it said.

Three out of four brands of tampon, according to a recent piece in The New York Times, are designed by men.It is also largely men, no doubt, who then levy a tax on these tampons, as though they were cakes, biscuits, hot pasties, or similar inessential items we purchase for pleasure.

The face of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, looked out from the top half of the The Daily Telegraph front page on Saturday beside a big headline: “My secret father”. Coverage of this exclusive filled six more pages.

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14 April 2016 | by Jonathan Tulloch
I stepped out the back door under a blue sky. By the time I had got down the lane, the sun had disappeared under a skirl of dirty clouds.

In the Easter season Thomas makes two notable appearances, one much more significant than the other. The gospel story about doubting Thomas has to be one of the most misunderstood episodes in the New Testament.

The most informative entry in Zimbabwe’s national budget is a blank space on page 217 – beside the label “capital expenditure” for secondary schools.

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07 April 2016 | by Jonathan Tulloch
There were four of us walking through the spring woods. Our niece’s Hampshire boyfriend, a keen fly fisherman, was explaining the beauty of speckled chalk-stream trout when I noticed the flowers decorating our crushed limestone path.

Schools now have a legal duty to do all they can to prevent extremism. This, along with responsibility for the academic, emotional, moral, social, cultural and spiritual development of hundreds, possibly thousands of students, pushes the role of teacher from a deliverer of knowledge close to the realms of magician.

My local supermarket had signs up advertising the date of Easter throughout Lent, as it did for Halloween on stacks of pumpkins last autumn. But The Daily Telegraph reported a perhaps, um, confected row about Easter eggs.

You may be aching for the European referendum campaign to be over. Wherever you stand on the big question of leave or remain, the chances are that you are already jaded with the tone and pitch of a debate thin on poetry, heavy on personalities, with its acrimony index high and threatening to rise still further.

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31 March 2016 | by Jonathan Tulloch
Bringing the washing in from the line, we laid it over the bed. A buzzing began. A pyjama top moved slightly. The buzz grew louder. Then a bee popped out from the pyjama jacket pocket. It was a buff-tailed bumblebee queen, our largest bee and the first to emerge in spring.

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24 March 2016 | by Jonathan Tulloch
Running for my train, I heard a song thrush. It was calling from the wilding birch flourishing in the overgrown sidings at Thirsk Station.

Much focus is now on the final stages in the selection of the presidential candidates by the two main political parties in the United States. On 18 July the Republicans will gather in Cleveland to select their candidate; a week later the Democrats meet for their national convention in Philadelphia.

A few months ago, I attended a press conference that, had it been at almost any other institution, would have seemed ridiculously outdated. The issue was the participants. There was a big stage, a long, wide table, and six speakers. All of them were male.

Perhaps this column needs a “trigger warning”, that is to say a warning to the effect that it might make some people uncomfortable. Not making people uncomfortable seems to have become the latest academic fashion.

I dread Good Friday. No one else seems to. Everyone I know seems to get through it without letting it ruin the weeks running up to it. But for me, when Lent begins, an anticipatory gloom settles over me. I find myself trying to avoid the observance of Lent itself, because I do not want to admit what is inevitably coming, at the end.

Does the latest row about the mosque at Córdoba belong to the interminable arguments about whether the Elgin Marbles should be returned to Greece? Another version of this argument was rehearsed in the press last week, about whether a Benin bronze cock should be returned to Africa by Jesus College, Cambridge.

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17 March 2016 | by Jonathan Tulloch
The woods are criss-crossed with badger trails. I followed one. Winding through the trees, it lifted me up the hill. I wasn’t expecting the sudden panorama at the top.

There are some countries where you can learn important facts just by peering out of the window. In Tehran the other day, I looked out of my hotel room at the flat rooftops of Iran’s gigantic capital. Countless satellite dishes were arrayed around me, some old and rusting, others new and shiny.

Mary Magdalene should sue the Church for defamation. Never mind her being the apostle to the Apostles on Easter Day, since Tertullian in the third century her name has been synonymous with being a prostitute.

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10 March 2016 | by Jonathan Tulloch
Last night I dreamt I was back in the house where I grew up. All the old companions were there: the creak on the stairs, the cat on my bed, the tawny owls calling from the oaks on the scaur, and the birch tree that dominated our back yard.

When Euro-fever races through the national capillaries, it produces a number of side effects. One of them is various protagonists raising the question of which great talismanic figure from the past would vote to leave and which to remain in the European Union if they still bestrode our green and troubled land?

Recent research suggests that hundreds of teachers are leaving the United Kingdom each year to teach abroad. Worryingly, there are more following this path than are training each year. We are on the brink, if not in the middle, of a crisis.

I have never watched Downton Abbey and have thankfully never had to manage a large servants’ hall, but I am pretty certain that secret meetings of the upper servants in the Housekeeper’s Room (or should that be Butler’s Pantry; housekeepers tend to be female) designed to circumvent the known wishes of the family would be a sacking offence.

The Times is encouraging its readers with the slogan “Make history. Write to The Times today.” Its appeals for letters to the editor come with quotations from those by the famous.

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03 March 2016 | by Jonathan Tulloch
We were halfway down the village when a hare darted out from a front garden. A black Labrador shot after it in pursuit. As though witnessing an Aesop’s fable, we watched the hare sprint up the street while the rather chubby dog huffed and puffed in chase.

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