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Low life

Low liferss

Pigmy. Zaire. Africa

The bump in the night that changed my mind about pygmies

13 September 2014

Music of the Forest on Radio 4 last week was a profile of the anthropologist Colin Turnbull, 1924–1994, who achieved celebrity with his book The Forest People: A Study of… Read more

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An undergraduate anorak at 32

6 September 2014

When I was 32, tired at last, for the moment anyway, of seizing the day, I stopped drinking and gave up smoking and enrolled for two A-levels in one year… Read more

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Glazed tiles, a barred window: it must be another morning in a police cell

30 August 2014

In my late twenties, it was not unusual for me to wake up in a police cell wearing a paper suit. Waking to glazed tiles and a high barred window,… Read more

Reverend Billy Graham Photo: Getty

What I learned working in the lunatic asylum

23 August 2014

In 1984 I was 27. Since leaving school I had done unskilled manual labour, when I could get any. Then l worked as a nursing assistant and then a trainee… Read more

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A road trip in the company of Long John Silver and an exciting pair of thighs

16 August 2014

I live in south Devon. Last week I went up to north Devon, to visit a friend who was renting a cottage on the coast for a week. Devon is… Read more

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How I'm different without testosterone

9 August 2014

I’ve might have no testosterone. (My production is currently being stopped by injection once every three months.) But what I do have is a Fiat Barchetta, bought for a grand… Read more

Celebrity Big Brother - Contestants Enter The House

The indiscreet charm of Jim Davidson

2 August 2014

Le tout Torquay was there, cramming into the Princess Theatre with a drink in each hand ten minutes after the show had begun. I pressed in among them. Jim Davidson,… Read more

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'Oscar sat and clutched his lunchbox as the practice nurse punctured grandad in the buttock'

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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'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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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"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

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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

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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