Low life

Low liferss


My grandson’s Great Leap Forward

26 July 2014

‘Oscar!’ cried Miss Herd as I arrived. She was standing at the classroom door releasing her charges one by one as the parent, or in my case the grandparent, arrived… Read more


I am walking to the Spectator party — sober, clean and in all my finery

19 July 2014

They do love a party at The Spectator. I was invited to four in ten days last week: the Apollo Summer party, the Spectator ‘At Home’ Summer party, the annual… Read more


Honesty, simplicity, integrity: not what I want the morning after

12 July 2014

Tap tap tap at the door. I opened my eyes. ‘Check-out 10.30,’ said a neutral or possibly slightly hostile female voice on the other side of the door. I looked… Read more


A circle of love with Brown Eagle Feather

5 July 2014

‘I’m wasted,’ said Trev, meaning not that his life is futile, but that his mind was overwhelmed by illegal drugs. He conceded it. It wasn’t often that drugs ruined him,… Read more


My night in a room haunted by falling cannonballs

28 June 2014

On Saturday night I went to Charlie’s 69th birthday party. What a gaff he’s got. The rather snooty description of the Grade II listing sums the place up as ‘a… Read more


An orgy of violence at the summer fête

21 June 2014

After three days tête-à-tête (and sometimes tête-à-pied) I walked into town alone to get some air and see what the town was like and the people in it. In one… Read more


A free gin, a cheeky joint: welcome back to the local

14 June 2014

My first time back in the local for eight weeks. The manageress lifts the flap, comes around to my side of the bar and kisses me on the lips. We… Read more

Fiesta De San Fermin Running Of The Bulls - Day 8

Sharon took to the madness of Pamplona like a duck to water

7 June 2014

Then there was the time I took Sharon to the Pamplona bull run. She looked very fetching in the traditional St Fermín costume of white T-shirt, white cut-off jeans, red… Read more


Two narcissists trapped in one static caravan

31 May 2014

I was two days alone in the caravan and no signal or reception of any sort. It was like a Buddhist silent retreat, where you have to listen in horrified… Read more


In the soft Cornish air, with the pressure off, I caved in

24 May 2014

Just when I was beginning to think I’d had enough, I was offered a free week in a caravan. I took it like a shot, threw a few shirts in… Read more


'I know what you are, and where you've come from. Be aware we are under God's protection'

17 May 2014

I couldn’t find the house so I called the number again. Instead of the man I’d spoken to previously, this time a woman answered. ‘I’m surprised you couldn’t find the… Read more


My love for Sharon was like a mental illness

10 May 2014

As Sharon stooped to pour boiling water from the kettle into two mugs, I studied her back and wondered what, if anything, remained in me of the love I once… Read more


Sharon's back, altered in mind as well as body

3 May 2014

Sharon’s back. As soon as I heard, I went straight round to the house and let myself in. She was standing in the kitchen wearing that deceptively vulnerable look that… Read more


My VIP drive around Rajasthan

26 April 2014

Two years ago, roughly, for a travel piece, I flew to Delhi and took a southbound train to a dusty railway platform in Rajasthan. There I was met by a… Read more


Battle of the grandsons

19 April 2014

In the blue corner, wearing 4oz gloves, is the Ninja. Real name Klynton. The younger of my two grandsons. Also known as Ninge. Aged three. Weighed in at 35lbs. Blue… Read more


"She's so materialistic, she likes me to slap her bum with my chequebook"

12 April 2014

On eBay car auctions one often reads of all sorts of reasons for cars being sold: birth, death, marriage, divorce, promotion, emigration. But rarely is the car an unwanted gift.… Read more


We're all just bewildered apes – my financial adviser proves it

5 April 2014

Depressed and demoralised after the defeat of his nation of farmers in the second Boer war, Eugène Marais, an Afrikaner patriot, lawyer, naturalist, poet, lifelong morphine addict and journalist, went… Read more


He's a great friend. He knows everything. Please don't let him phone

29 March 2014

Another sunny Sunday morning and the phone rings. I pick up the receiver. It’s Frank. I groan inwardly. Frank is a doctor and an old family friend and a great… Read more

Luis Suarez Photo: Getty

The hilarity of Hoopoes and Luis Suárez’s teeth

22 March 2014

My brother’s three Borders are called Roxy, Ruby and Taz. My one ambition in life is to own a terrier again, or rather three terrier bitches, just so that I… Read more

Catheter bags: a damn nuisance when confronted with a  foursome

A night on a hospital ward with Paddy Leigh Fermor

15 March 2014

The catheter stung exquisitely when I lay down. So I stood up. All night I stood by my hospital bed, tethered by my penis to the transparent collection bag hanging… Read more


I’m hoping and praying for a continuation of potency

8 March 2014

I’ve had a medical procedure that is ‘likely’ to leave me impotent. A nurse is coming around dishing out Tramadol, a painkiller of the morphine family. I raise my hand… Read more

Watching car crash compliations with my grandson

1 March 2014

My boy was downstairs cooking Sunday roast. Earlier, I had been clambering about on a woodpile, stepped awkwardly, and twisted my knee. So I was upstairs lying on my bed… Read more


Lord Rennard's hand-brushing is nothing. I'll tell you what true violation is

22 February 2014

‘In my opinion,’ says Alistair Webster QC, author of the Liberal Democrats’ internal report into Lord Rennard’s droit de seigneur-style pulling technique, ‘the evidence of behaviour which violated the personal… Read more

Ian Drury Photo: Redferns

My night in Zambia with Ian Dury 

15 February 2014

Every time I hear that song ‘Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll’ played on the radio, I think, Lord, how I miss Ian Dury. Then I wish they’d play… Read more


Rolling back the years in a stretched Hummer

8 February 2014

My first ride in a stretch Hummer. I haven’t lived, I now realise. The prodigious, ridiculous thing, tricked out in multicoloured neon piping, drew up outside the pub where we… Read more