Fibs projected as true stories. That is what populism is all about. Like all stories it has elements of truth. And like all stories it is fiction in the true sense of the word, involving falsehood, lies, misrepresentation, untruth.

Most South Asian families have one. An Auntie Ji, who is not really a member of the family, but everyone’s Auntie. On the Subcontinent, they serve as marriage brokers and go-betweens, and keep the neighbourhood well-oiled with gossip. Amongst the Asian diaspora in Britain, the universal Auntie Ji performed an additional function: she served as a local moral guardian who kept a beady eye on the young.

It has become rather unnatural to be an ordinary, caring, socially conscious human being. So here are twelve postnormal plagues, some already with us, some anticipated as lurking over the horizon, for you to contemplate.

Superpowers. Of all the possible superpowers in this best of all possible worlds, which one would you most like to possess? We sought the counsel of a four-year old girl. Without hesitation she replied that she wished she could ‘make everything pink’.

Muslim attitudes to power are like everything else about the contemporary ummah: complex; contradictory and chaotic.

Qatar does not have a rich football history, and I must admit, I did not think it had a chance. But when Qatar won the bid, I jumped for joy. At last, I thought, a Gulf state is going to do something that will be seen around the world as good. But moments later, my delight evaporated as some disturbing thoughts came to the fore.

Why should freethought, and freethinkers, be deemed dangerous? After all, thought or our ability to reason is integral to what makes us human.

‘Taz’, a new channel on the Pakistani Geo TV network, is dedicated to twenty-four-hour news. There is a rapid-fire news bulletin every fifteen minutes: hence the name, Taz, or fast. But even after an endless stream of stories about sectarian violence, terrorist atrocities, suicide bombings, ‘target killings’, ‘load shedding’, political corruption and the defeats of the Pakistani cricket team with mundane regularity, there is still ample time left in the schedule.

The sign at the entrance to St George Street is unexpected. In a culture given over to the automobile, where atomised individuals in their private, insulated space, drive up to cash dispensers, fast food counters, and to the heart and top of perpendicular offices and dwellings, a sign discouraging the car is unique. But then St Augustine, Florida, itself is quite a unique town.

A confession. In case you did not know I am a man. A generic, universal entity about which the seventeenth century French aristocrat Madame de Sevigne knew a thing or two. ‘The more I see of men’, she declared, ‘the more I admire dogs’. Knowing myself as well as I do, I appreciate her preference.