Long life

Long liferss


Here’s how to remain cheerful in the face of such a multitude of scares

18 October 2014

I don’t think I can remember a time when there have been so many scares about. They come at us from every direction, and even sometimes from out of the… Read more


Cooking I find easy and satisfying. Preparing microwave dinners, on the other hand...

11 October 2014

When some years ago I stopped having to go to an office, mainly because nobody wanted me to go to one, I started to do quite a lot of cooking.… Read more

The Bottom Line

Evan Davies is SO not Jeremy Paxman (thank God)

4 October 2014

It’s unusual for somebody promoting his own television programme to tell you not to watch it, but that’s what Evan Davis has been doing. At least, he has asked us… Read more

A couple share a bottle of champagne at Glyndebourne. Can Christopher Gilmour's Winslow Hall become the fourth ‘G’ of England's country-house opera scene? Photo: Getty

Winslow Hall shows you don’t need fancy sets to make opera enjoyable

27 September 2014

Winslow Hall is a large and handsome country house in Buckinghamshire, built in 1700 by Sir Christopher Wren, which Tony Blair nearly bought in 2007 when he was looking for… Read more

Shieldhill – the ancestral home of the Chancellor family and the house that links Alexander with Scotland. Photo: Pete Birkinshaw from flickr.com/photos/binaryape/35625924/ (CC BY 2.0)

Reasons for feeling Scottish

20 September 2014

Sometimes I say I’m Scottish, a claim often greeted with understandable derision. I was born in England, in Hertfordshire, went to school and university in England and, apart from some… Read more


What my chickens need is a dog

13 September 2014

Of the nine chickens I used to keep here in Northamptonshire only one survived the summer, and it was the least appealing of them — broody, squawky, aggressive, and a… Read more


The war on e-cigarettes is enough to make me give up giving up

6 September 2014

I have been, on and off, a lifelong smoker; but I gave up in January 2009 on the day of Barack Obama’s inauguration as President of the United States. It… Read more


Wedding receptions make me wonder about the point of marriage

30 August 2014

Back from holiday in Italy, I look out of my kitchen window in Northamptonshire to find the country view blocked by an enormous marquee with red pennants flying from the… Read more


The Italians are disgusted with our holidaymakers

23 August 2014

As the holidays draw to a close, Italian newspapers have been reporting with perplexity and distaste on the outlandish behaviour of foreign tourists in Italy, by which they mean young… Read more

David and Samantha Cameron on holiday in  Cascais, Portugal Photo: Getty

The word ‘holiday’ has become a political taboo

16 August 2014

It’s August in Tuscany, and the market towns are eerily quiet, presumably because most of their inhabitants are off on their summer holidays by the sea, in the mountains, or… Read more


If you want real stress, move to the country

9 August 2014

It’s much more stressful to live in the country than in a town. There are always threats of one kind or another — wind farms, housing developments, road ‘improvements’, and… Read more

Labour Leader Ed Miliband Speech At The Science Museum

You can't spin yourself into authenticity – as Ed Miliband is finding out

2 August 2014

For a politician to draw attention to his own deficiencies is a desperate attempt to curry favour with the electorate that has been tried before with dismal consequences. The most… Read more


Freedom for my chickens! All it took was a man with a gun

26 July 2014

If I haven’t mentioned my poultry for a while, it’s because the subject has been too depressing. I had been very fond of my ducks and chickens until the constant… Read more


Assisted suicide is too close to murder to be legal

19 July 2014

How amazing to have two former Anglican archbishops, George Carey of Canterbury and Desmond Tutu of South Africa, supporting Lord Falconer’s bill to legalise assisted suicide! It has always been,… Read more

Rolf Harris

I thought paedophiles were rare – but then I read the newspapers

12 July 2014

One problem from which I am confident I don’t suffer is paedophilia. I have always liked picking up babies and hugging them, especially my own children or grandchildren, but never… Read more

Former British PM Launches The Tony Blair Faith Foundation

The profitable delusion shared by Bill Clinton and Tony Blair

Tony Blair and Bill Clinton must be very happy about how they have fared since leaving political office, for each has since become enormously rich. Tony Blair may well be… Read more

Reinhard Heydrich deputy Gestapo chief, also known as 'The Hangman' during a visit to Rome

Brave, noble, forgotten – the other side of Italy's second world war

28 June 2014

At the time of the armistice of September 1943, when the kingdom of Italy formally transferred its allegiance from the Germans to the invading Allies, there were some 40,000 British… Read more

On being fired – and hired – as an editor

21 June 2014

Last week was unusual. At the start of it, I was mooching about in the country in my customary way, doing little odd jobs and fretting over the fate of… Read more

Kensington And Chelsea Street, Egerton Crescent Named Most Expensive For Second Year Running

Young Italians flock to London – for just the same reasons it scares me

14 June 2014

Although I live in the country in Northamptonshire, I go to London often — almost once a week — and I find it more and more intimidating. This isn’t just… Read more

Lord Rennard Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

I wouldn't have accepted Lord Rennard's apology – but then he shouldn't have made it

Shirley Williams has a point when she says that Lord Rennard’s alleged harassment of four female Lib Dem colleagues was very small beer compared with the sexual abuse attributed to… Read more

Tara Erraught Photo: Getty

Sorry, Tara Erraught, but the age of the fat lady singing is over

London’s opera critics have been roundly condemned for suggesting that a female singer’s personal appearance could make her unsuitable for a role. The singer in question is Tara Erraught, a… Read more


Why do consultants write such scary, incomprehensible letters?

There is a kind of letter designed to bewilder, upset and possibly terrify its recipient, and this is the standard letter sent by specialist medical consultants to the victims of… Read more

Sir George Christie with Swedish soprano Elisabeth Soderstrom Photo: Getty

Why Glyndebourne’s George Christie always cut his own hair

One curious fact about Sir George Christie, who died last week, aged 79, was that he always cut his own hair, a notoriously difficult thing to do. He did it… Read more


Would the urine of an eight-year-old protect my chickens?

I was predicting in a recent column that the arrival of spring would be bad news for my poultry, and so it has turned out: two ducks, a fat, waddling… Read more

Secretary of State for Culture, Sajid Javid

The rich have given up their freedom

The appointment of Sajid Javid as the new Secretary of State for Culture has been much criticised on the grounds that culture is not his forte; and in an interview… Read more