Humour

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Diane Williams’s surreal parables are an acquired taste — and one well worth acquiring

12 November 2016 9:00 am

There is a common assumption that experimental writing — for want of a better term — is obscure, joyless and…

Being adored by Middle England as cosy and harmless drives Alan Bennett mad

Alan Bennett: one of the sharpest, funniest writers in the English language

15 October 2016 9:00 am

Robert Douglas-Fairhurst reveals that, far from being a cuddly, mild-mannered teddy bear, our national treasure has sharp claws — and a gimlet eye

Dear Mary: How can we stop people giving us wedding presents we don’t need?

20 August 2016 9:00 am

Q. My partner and I have been living together for 26 years, but now that he’s asked me to marry…

Dear Mary: On being an unappreciated patron of the arts

23 July 2016 9:00 am

Q. Since my husband began to appear in the Rich List he has become much more popular with ‘artists’ in…

Dear Mary: Is it naff to circulate an advance list of dinner-party guests?

11 June 2016 9:00 am

Q. When going out to dinner I’ve found some people will send everyone a list of the other guests so…

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How a grumpy llama became the third person in our relationship

14 May 2016 9:00 am

Gussie is the name of a grumpy and ill-natured llama, her coat largely white and somewhat unkempt, and much given…

Dear Mary: My doctor keeps asking me for advice on selling furniture

7 May 2016 9:00 am

Q. I know it’s a gaffe to ask a doctor for medical advice at a party, but what is the…

Author Irvine Welsh (Photo:  Getty)

From Jekyll back to Hyde: the changing face of Begbie

23 April 2016 9:00 am

Irvine Welsh’s 1993 debut novel Train-spotting flicked a hearty V-sign in the face of alarm-clock Britain. ‘Ah choose no tae…

Dear Mary: My husband leaves all cupboards and drawers open

5 March 2016 9:00 am

Q. Re. your letter from F.C. about the boyfriend leaving lids off (20 February), I have a similar problem. My husband…

Dear Mary: new neighbours want me to provide a ready-made social scene

27 February 2016 9:00 am

Q. Former colleagues, with whom I got on very well in the context of the office, are buying a house…

Dear Mary: How can I teach my boyfriend to put the lids back on?

20 February 2016 9:00 am

Q. I love my boyfriend but he has a terrible habit I was unaware of before he moved in. If…

Dear Mary: Our granddaughters are giving money away to a cause we do not support. Should we cut off their funding?

23 January 2016 9:00 am

Q. We have two granddaughters working hard and happily at university. It is our pleasure to give them some cash…

Dear Mary: What do you do when too many people accept a party invitation?

16 January 2016 9:00 am

Q. What can be done when more people than you can cater for accept an invitation? We are giving a…

Dear Mary: On a troublesome festive invitation

2 January 2016 9:00 am

I have been alone in the country this festive season as my adult children and most of my friends are…

‘Second Empire Renaissance’ (from Pillar to Post). ‘Its most notable feature was the mansard roof. However suitable this device may be on top of the Louvre, it altogether fails to produce an effect of inevitable rightness amid the less exalted surroundings of Victoria Station.’

Osbert Lancaster: a national treasure rediscovered

12 December 2015 9:00 am

True to his saw that ours is ‘a land of rugged individualists’, Osbert Lancaster, in his self-appointed role of popular…

Dear Mary: How to stop someone from giving my tiny children expensive clothes that they never wear?

5 December 2015 9:00 am

Q. Is there a tactful way to deter certain people from buying clothing for one’s tiny children as Christmas presents?…

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Nick Robinson’s diary: What dog will donate its vocal cords to me?

28 November 2015 9:00 am

Scientists are experimenting with growing replacement vocal cords in the lab, as well as transplanting them from dogs. That was…

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There’s a right way to lose at the Oxford Union. I did the wrong way

21 November 2015 9:00 am

The way not to win a debate at the Oxford Union, I’ve just discovered, is to start your speech with…

EDINBURGH, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 04: Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh smiles during a visit to the headquarters of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force's (RAuxAF) 603 Squadron on July 4, 2015 in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by Danny Lawson - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

The secret brilliance of Prince Philip’s ‘gaffes’

7 November 2015 9:00 am

I’ve just been on the receiving end of a Prince Philip gaffe, of sorts, and I loved it. It was…

Author Patrick deWitt (Photo: Getty)

Patrick deWitt is a literary original but he needs to BE MORE FUNNY

3 October 2015 9:00 am

Patrick deWitt is a Canadian writer whose second novel, a picaresque and darkly comic western called The Sisters Brothers, was…

Woody Allen and Diane Keaton in Manhattan

Woody Allen: a life of jazz, laughter, depression —and a few misdemeanours

26 September 2015 8:00 am

Woody Allen (born Allan Stewart Konigsberg), the prolific, Oscar-winning auteur, New Orleans-style jazz clarinettist, doyen of New York delicatessen society,…

Author Harry Mount

Harry’s Homer — a humorous history

25 July 2015 9:00 am

It was a certain unforgettable ex-girlfriend, Harry Mount confesses — named only as ‘S’ in his dedication — who came…

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A crime novel so incompetent it might have been written by a child

25 July 2015 9:00 am

First, a quote from the novel under review. The context: it is a flashback scene of the behaviour of a…

Dear Mary: Someone told me their extraordinary life story, but I tuned the whole thing out

17 January 2015 9:00 am

Q. After a recent dinner I found myself on a two-seater sofa enjoying the restful company of a woman who…

From Stephen Collins’s Some Comics

The 10 best loo books of 2014: why we sing so much better in the shower and what became of Queen Victoria’s children’s milk teeth

22 November 2014 9:00 am

Nancy Mitford would not call them ‘toilet books’, that’s for certain. Loo books? Lavatory books? One or two people I…