My great-great-great grandfather, a York Quaker called Henry Isaac Rowntree (that’s him on the left), set up Rowntree’s chocolate company in York in 1862. He was an amiable young man, ‘perhaps the only Rowntree with a sense of humour’ according to one historian. He had a parrot who liked to shout obscenities from under the Read more…

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Last weekend I had a glimpse of the future. I spoke at a New Age festival in Holland, a country where just 39% of people belong to a religion. According to the British Social Attitudes Survey released this week, that’s where we’re heading too. Thirty years ago, 68% of Brits said they belonged to a Read more…

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Happy New Year! Tis the season to be wary – wary of alcohol, sugar, cigarettes, carbohydrates, and all the other stuff that makes life bearable. What have you given up for New Year? Me, I’m off the fags, again, and taking exercise in an attempt to lose a bit of weight. It seems our country Read more…

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The New Republic has a cover story by eminent social historian Deirdre McCloskey warning of the dangers of Happyism, or ‘the creepy new economics of pleasure’. The piece shows American culture beginning to engage more deeply with the politics of well-being – there have also been excellent articles recently in The Atlantic and I wrote Read more…

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Watching the excellent Banksy documentary, Exit Through the Gift Shop. Banksy’s always struck me as the modern heir to Diogenes the Cynic, who was thrown out of Sinope for ‘defacing the currency’, so it’s good to see Banksy defacing the currency too.

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