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  • Twenty Ideas on Marriage

    Our society typically devotes huge attention to the start of a marriage - and particularly to the actual wedding ceremony. We’re correct that a great deal of thought is needed somewhere. But it’s the continuation of marriage that is - of course - the real challenge and here we are too often left on our own. This essay is The School of Life’s guide to the rest of a life together, containing twenty central ideas on how to make a relationship work over decades
  • The News from Without - and the News from Within

    We know that we must, to lay claim to any respectability or competence, keep up with the news. That’s why we’ve ringed the earth with satellites, crisscrossed it with fiber optic cables, and created networks of bureaus that inform us with maniacal urgency of pretty much any event to have unfolded anywhere on the planet in the last few moments. We are, furthermore, equipped with tiny devices that we keep very close to hand, and which we tend to check at
  • Sane Insanity

    It does not lie within any of our remits to be entirely sane. There are so many powerful reasons why we must lack an entirely even keel. We have complex histories, we are heading towards the ultimate catastrophe, we are vulnerable to devastating losses; love will never go wholly well, the gap between our hopes and our realities will be cavernous.   In the circumstances, what we should aim for is not sanity, but a wise, knowledgeable and
  • Artistic Philanthropy

    There’s a large and prominent tradition of philanthropy that wishes to serve civilised values and seeks to promote them via sometimes enormous donations to the arts. A portion of the surplus wealth created in one area (oil, supermarkets, construction, the media) is deposited in another: public art galleries. The paintings and sculpture on display often murmur quietly about the deepest and loveliest things: compassion for the secret sorrows of existence, the
  • On Nagging

    Nagging is the dispiriting, unpleasant, counter-productive but wholly understandable and poignant version of a hugely noble ambition: the desire to change other people. There is so much we might fairly want to change about them. We’re an entirely imperfect lot. And so we want them to be more self-aware, punctual, generous, reliable, introspective, resilient, communicative, profound… At home, we want them to focus more on the sink, the children, the bins, the
  • The Art of Listening

    Many of us probably have a nagging feeling that we don’t listen enough to other people. Here we’re not going to make the guilt worse by telling you that listening is a good thing, worthy but in fact rather dull. We’re going to show you that listening to others is first and foremost an interesting thing to do, something that could be as pleasurable for you as it is for your speaking companion. And as a result, we try to minimise how much we’refun2

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