Long life

Long liferss


My role in saving The Spectator

1 August 2015

I was wondering what to write about this week when I suddenly realised that exactly 40 years ago this Saturday I became editor of this magazine. Despite eventually getting the… Read more


Smartphones are wonderful – until they take over your life

25 July 2015

The smart phone is a wonderful thing. We are never out of touch anymore, neither with friends nor with the world at large. But increasingly we read of the harm… Read more


The dark heart of croquet

18 July 2015

I have always been what I suppose one could call a weed, and a cowardly one at that. I never liked sports and was never any good at them. When… Read more


How strange to feel nostalgic for the 1970s

11 July 2015

The 1960s were already more than halfway over when I realised that I was living through what was supposed to be an exciting decade. I had got married, found a… Read more


First I cursed the Calais migrants — then I thanked them

The Eurostar train descended gently into the Channel Tunnel, went halfway along it, and then stopped. There it remained for what seemed a very long time, the silence broken only… Read more

(Photo: Getty)

The pointlessness of outlawing hogging the middle lane

27 June 2015

It is nearly two years since the police were granted new powers to fine motorists for ‘hogging’ the middle lane of a motorway, but it’s only now that anyone has… Read more

Alan Rusbridger (Photo: Getty)

Alan Rusbridger’s final oath

20 June 2015

My friend Alan Rusbridger has just given up editing the Guardian after a distinguished 20-year reign that has climaxed, as befits an accomplished musician and former chair of Britain’s National… Read more

Music lovers (Photo: Getty)

Dressing up for the opera is not elitist

13 June 2015

It’s June, and the country-house summer opera festivals are now in full swing. Glyndebourne, which opened the season last month, has now been joined by its leading emulators — Garsington… Read more


Living next door to someone rich, and beside a motorway, makes you fat and your blood pressure soar

I wrote last week about a swarm of bees that had attached itself to a wall of my house, as if this were a rare and momentous event; but since… Read more


Inside, pursued by a swarm of bees

From reading the newspapers you might get the impression that honeybees were on the way to extinction. In Europe, it is said, the number of honeybee colonies has fallen in… Read more


A Finnish man was fined £83,000 for speeding because his annual income is £10.1 million

I have rather a poor record for speeding over the years. I have been caught by cameras quite often, sometimes getting points on my licence and paying modest fines, and… Read more

Power couple: 'Dave and Sam' (Photo: Getty)

What Italy made of the result of the British general election (not much)

On election day I was in Puglia in the ‘heel’ of Italy, where interest in British politics could hardly be lower. One local news website that I consulted appeared to… Read more


The over-75s are being asked if they would like to sign their own death warrants

It’s more than four months now since my 75th birthday, but I’m still waiting for a ‘cold call’ from the NHS to ask if I have ‘thought about resuscitation’. This… Read more

long life

The fraught business of seat surrender

I remember the first time that someone stood up and offered me a seat on the London Underground. It was in 2002, when I was 62 years old, and rather… Read more

Prince George Of Cambridge First Birthday

It's not just Bush and Clinton: America's been dynasty-crazy from the start

25 April 2015

There are already people camping outside St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington, to await the birth shortly of another royal baby, the second child of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. It… Read more

They're alive! (Photo: Getty)

The tortoises are alive! (And sitting on the duck’s eggs)

18 April 2015

No sooner had I written last week’s column about the sad disappearance of the two tortoises in my care than they suddenly showed up. The sun had shone for two… Read more


Have I inadvertently killed my friend’s tortoises?

11 April 2015

It’s April. It’s spring. The daffodils and the cowslips are in flower. The birds are chirping merrily. But where are the tortoises? There were two of them, a big one… Read more

Foreign tourists far out on the sand after the water receeded react as the first of six tsunami start to roll towards Hat Rai Lay Beach, near Krabi in southern Thailand, 26 December 2004. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

The fox that killed my chickens depressed me more than 250,000 tsunami deaths

4 April 2015

It is hard to know how a tragedy is going to move a person who is not directly affected by it. Over a death or misfortune in the family, or… Read more

Ed Miliband Photo: Getty

Be different, be original: that’s what makes a popular politician

28 March 2015

I sometimes try to imagine what it would be like being a political leader. I find this difficult because I would be so utterly ill suited to the role. I’m… Read more


An Episcopalian vicar made me warm to the principle of women joining gentlemen’s clubs

21 March 2015

In 1993, when I was living in Manhattan working for the New Yorker magazine, I was chosen as ‘distinguished visitor’ to be a temporary member of the Century Club: there… Read more


It’s a pointless waste of time for David Cameron to resurrect the hunting debate

14 March 2015

Of all the election promises politicians make in the run-up to a general election the one most certain to remain unfulfilled is David Cameron’s pledge to try to repeal the… Read more

In it for the long haul: Vogue editor, Anne Wintour Photo: Getty

I’ve been sacked more times than I can exactly remember. It teaches you nothing

7 March 2015

The Oldie magazine — of which, until otherwise advised, I appear to be the editor — runs an occasional article about someone’s experience of being sacked. When I was young,… Read more

A visitor views a painting by Flemish artist Peter Paul Rubens entitled 'Tiger, Lion and Leopard Hunt' Photo: Getty

You can’t force low-income people to go to an art gallery or the theatre if they don’t want to

28 February 2015

I went last week to see the justly praised production of Wagner’s The Mastersingers at English National Opera, and I didn’t see a single black face there, nor even much… Read more


The elderly are society’s new baddies

21 February 2015

The gulf in understanding between the old and the young has widened with the news that the young are beginning to turn teetotal. If there was one thing that the… Read more

Google’s Lexus Self Driving Car Photo: Getty

How the driverless car will liberate us all (except smokers, of course)

14 February 2015

I was listening to the radio the other morning to hear people complaining about the huge cuts in the number of traffic police patrolling English roads. This meant that drivers… Read more