Everyday life


Did you do something for the last time today?

22 November 2014

The end of the year seems a good time to think about lasts. Not many of us ever do. Firsts are always landmarks: the first time you taste alcohol, drive… Read more

Joaquin Phoenix falls in love with the voice of his computer in 'Her' Photo: Annapurna Pictures / The Kobal Collection

The voice of Big Mother does more for women than any Twitter feminist

5 July 2014

Feminism in modern Britain is not for the faint-hearted. Only the smartest, mouthiest girls on the social media scene dare join the fray — in print, in blogs, on Twitter… Read more


7 June 2014

Q. A friend regularly hires a stall at a general neighbourhood market in order to sell surplus second-hand clothes and women’s accessories. She recently sold one of her handbags to… Read more

24 May 2014

Q. My dear English husband has never mastered the knack of timing his interventions in conversation. He hesitates politely, and by the time somebody pauses, his comments are no longer… Read more

Tomorrow We Live

When did it become OK to be boring?

10 May 2014

I can remember back in the 1970s when a girlfriend of mine, sensing my lack of interest in her very long and very detailed analysis of the lyrics of Bob… Read more

The Passion of Jesus is performed on Good Friday to crowds in Trafalgar Square

Yes, Britain is a Christian country

26 April 2014

I can’t say it was a great surprise to read a letter from a group of well-known authors, academics, comedians and politicians in the Telegraph earlier this week complaining about… Read more


You can buy happiness. Here’s how…

12 April 2014

If you are reading this article online, perhaps you could go to the comments section and let us know what single slightly unusual item you have bought which has brought… Read more

5 April 2014

Q. It’s only April and yet I am being emailed by parents who have already taken charge and are drumming up support for collective year presents for teachers at my… Read more


I don’t want to rate the restaurant. I want to rate the date

22 March 2014

It was an averagely OK evening at one of London’s smarter restaurants: the food was edible, the wine wasn’t vinegar, the company was quite adequate and I managed to return… Read more


Why working class grandparents are better than middle class ones

22 March 2014

When I told a friend that my nine-year-old son was staying with his grandparents for the whole week of the half-term, she said: ‘A whole week! My son would be… Read more

A devil monkey. Should they be restrained with Ritalin, or told to behave?

Dyslexia is meaningless. But don't worry – so is ADHD

15 March 2014

There is a beautiful symmetry to all things, I think, and probably related somehow to the concept of karma. Only two weeks ago, a bunch of researchers at Durham University… Read more


The battle against the dog police

15 March 2014

‘Be careful!’ shouted a woman on the North Wales beach. ‘The dog police are back!’ Using her walking stick to help her, Lynne stumbled towards the path leading off the… Read more

15 March 2014

Q. Is there a tactful way to keep one social offer on hold while waiting to see if you have made the cut for something ‘better’ you know to be… Read more

1 March 2014

Q. One of my best friends, who knows I don’t have a great social life at university, has a brother in a band which is touring and will have five… Read more

Author Dame Penelope Lively after receiving her Dame Commander medal  from the Princess Royal Photo: Getty

Penelope Lively

22 February 2014

My surgery has been calling in all those over 75 for a special session with their doctor — a sort of old-age MOT. I came out of mine pretty well,… Read more

22 February 2014

Q. Recently a cousin and I gave a small drinks party in the USA. She had invited a very elegant older Hispanic woman. At the end of the party, my… Read more

15 February 2014

Q. Over New Year I stayed with a man who combines being a generous and exciting host with a punctilious need for swift, hand-written appreciation. I had every intention of… Read more


The comedy club theory of dictatorship

8 February 2014

Have you ever wanted to know how dictators stay in power? Try visiting a comedy club. I went to one the other night. The acts varied in quality. No one… Read more

A little girl climbing into the confessi

Forgive me, Father

8 February 2014

For non-Catholics, the most luridly fascinating aspect of Catholicism is confession. Telling your inmost sins — and we know what they are — to a male cleric, eh? In a… Read more

8 February 2014

Q. I gave a copy of Dan Russel the Fox by Somerville and Ross to a couple I know to be very keen on hunting. It’s an out-of-print novel, hard to… Read more

London 2012 - London Transport

The case against London cabbies

1 February 2014

I lost my misguided faith in black cabs last week, on the corner of Royal College Street in north London. It was the tiniest trip — 2.4 miles from Bloomsbury… Read more

Taken lying down: Thomas Edison demonstrates the cat-nap, Virginia, July 1921

America's war on sleep

25 January 2014

 Fredericksburg, Virginia Ask an American to name the author of the line ‘Sleep, that knits up the ravelled sleeve of care’, and he will promptly reply ‘Shakespeare’. It’s pure guesswork… Read more

Sesame Street Live charactors (L-R), Ern

Agitprop for toddlers: the oddly strident politics of CBeebies

25 January 2014

I think I might be a bad parent; whenever my wife is out, I plonk our two-year-old daughter in front of the television. The other day we watched a rainbow… Read more


Clarissa Tan's Notebook: Why I stopped drinking petrol

25 January 2014

Florence was in fog the day I arrived. Its buildings were bathed in white cloud, its people moved as though through steam. The Arno river was a dense strip of… Read more

18 January 2014

Q. I have a problem with what might be called location blindness. I live in Balham, but when I arrange restaurant lunches with friends, most of whom live in west… Read more