Low life

Low liferss

Milan, Central Station (Photo: Getty)

Italy is so civilised! Even at a mad dash

29 August 2015

I sprinted through Milan station, speed-read the departures monitor without stopping, and arrived gasping on platform 8 with two minutes to spare. The driver of the FrecciaBianca bullet train was… Read more

Perseid meteor shower (Photo: Getty)

Watching the Persid meteor shower with Professor Brian Cox – lucky me!

22 August 2015

‘How many people have you slept with in your life, roughly?’ she asked. We were lying in bed in the morning. ‘You go first,’ I said, needing time to think… Read more


Have I killed my friend’s Jack Russell? Time to check Google

15 August 2015

Toby goes to bed at 10 o’clock sharp every night otherwise he gets irritable. Toby sleeps on the bed always. Toby is too old to jump up on to the… Read more


When the going gets tough there’s nothing like an hour of rollicking hymn singing

8 August 2015

On Saturday my boy had a mini-stroke at home, aged only 26. ‘You’ll have to give up smoking and do a spot of exercising now and again,’ I told him… Read more


My glimpse into the brotherhood of bouncers

1 August 2015

After Trev had mugged the mugger in the toilet we moved quickly on to another club. The Double O is frankly a horrible place, but it stays open later than… Read more

(Photo: Getty)

Safety tip: don't try to steal Trev's phone

25 July 2015

‘I’ve lost my phone,’ yells Trev. We’re in a club. He’s come charging on to the dance floor to tell me. He’s always forgetting where he’s left his phone and… Read more


In my opinion, Death Corner was a very safe place to stand

18 July 2015

Watching the daily running of the bulls through Pamplona’s narrow streets online this week has given me a wistful pang about not being there again. I once went to Pamplona’s… Read more


The chemically castrated are useless at crosswords: true or false?

11 July 2015

After hitting me with the cancer diagnosis, the urologist offered me the choice of a longer life in exchange for my testosterone production. After some soul-searching, I agreed. I’ve been… Read more


The dangers of praise

4 July 2015

Rachel Johnson, in last week’s Spectator diary, says that her husband says she only writes a book in order to have a launch party. Me too. My thoughts are too… Read more


Drugs, whipping, decomposing bodies and fighting in toilets: so that’s what Spectator readers get up to

27 June 2015

Ninety-two readers (thank you!) sent accounts of their worst debacles on drink or drugs. I printed out each one and clipped it into a ring binder. Last Thursday afternoon I… Read more

Peace be with you

The vicar struck the first blow. And then he told us all a joke

20 June 2015

Before delivering his sermon, the vicar said we must offer one another the sign of peace. He struck the first blow by stepping forward and thrusting a stiff karate hand… Read more


After the initial shock of my cancer diagnosis, I’ve never been happier

13 June 2015

On Sunday morning, I was kicking a football in the back garden with my grandson. I had bought him his first pair of football boots, Optimum Tribals, junior size 11,… Read more


Call myself a Low life? You lot put me to shame

6 June 2015

The entries are crawling in on their hands and knees for the ‘drunkest I’ve ever been’ competition to win a place at the launch party for the Low life column… Read more


Outstrip Jeremy Clarke’s worst excesses and win an invitation to his Low life book launch

30 May 2015

On 26 June there is a party at the Spectator office at 22 Old Queen Street to launch a paperback collection of Low life columns. If you would like to… Read more


The ant mind is right up there with the medieval one

23 May 2015

From somewhere in the tree canopy, a nightingale song. The virtuoso trilling and warbling, the underwater bubbling, the teetering on the brink before the tumbling cascade. I’m wearing turquoise Speedo… Read more

All aboard

A tale of two cruises

16 May 2015

I’ve been on two cruises before: one was fun, the other misery. The misery one was a late August cruise from Dover to Iceland via Shetland, Orkney and Faroe. The… Read more

A pirate's life for me

We could swear and spit, strangle and shoot people

9 May 2015

The old fishing town faced the sea psychically as well as architecturally. Dressed as pirates, my grandson and I walked down through the steep and narrow streets to the quayside,… Read more


A fingertip symphony in a deeply rural French ladies’ hairdresser

2 May 2015

Two stylists work at this deeply rural French ladies’ hairdresser. Christelle is a gorgeous 17-year-old point-of-lay pullet, so lithe and well made I want to weep. Sylvette, the owner, though… Read more

Poet John Clare spent much of his life destitute, and died in Northampton General Asylum. (Photo: Getty)

What’s On in South Devon gave me three choices: functioning psychotic preacher, bingo or a poetry evening

25 April 2015

I’m such a constitutional lightweight lately that I’ve started looking on the website What’s On in South Devon for things to do of an evening that don’t involve total annihilation.… Read more


A child in church! It’s a miracle!

18 April 2015

To say that Oscar was warmly welcomed as he stepped through the massive oak door into a chilly House of God for the first time in his life on Easter… Read more


The kindness of strangers you need the morning after

11 April 2015

Spectator Life’s third birthday party was a glamorous affair. It had paps, pop stars and Pippa. One went in and waiting at the top of the stairs were Spectator Life’s… Read more

The condor... and the eagle. Image: Getty

One day the Condor and the Eagle will fly wing-tip to wing-tip

4 April 2015

The pub was disappointingly empty, so I took my first pint of the evening upstairs, where some sort of New Age society was holding a public talk and discussion. I… Read more

Kenyan Maasai women gather for a meeting dedicated to the practice of female genital mutilation Photo: Getty

Football in front, infibulation behind

28 March 2015

I’m watching Manchester City being taken to the cleaners by Barcelona on the telly, while at the table behind me my Parisian feminist intellectual hostess Natalie is discussing female genital… Read more

Place your bets Photo: Getty

My afternoon in a Gallic version of Betfred

21 March 2015

For the Cheltenham Festival I received the customary tipster circular from my pal Soapy Joe. Soapy’s most convincing credential as a horse-racing tipster is that he is banned from every… Read more

'Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Table-Talking', 1904. Illustration from The Poets Corner, by Max Beerbohm Photo: Getty

Lunch with Max Beerbohm’s brother’s grandson

14 March 2015

It’s a silly, chippy complex, I know, but I often feel, on the rare occasions that I am induced to attend a lunch or dinner party, that I don’t belong.… Read more