Humour

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…

John Cleese Book Signing

Was John Cleese ever funny?

1 November 2014 9:00 am

Like many of my generation I was enchanted by the surrealistic irreverence of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, until I overheard…

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Should I report my boyfriend to the police?

28 June 2014 9:00 am

We’re now so eager to take offence that humour is almost impossible

George Saunders Photo: Getty

Samuel Beckett walks into a nail bar

29 March 2014 9:00 am

It isn’t very often that a writer’s work is so striking that you can remember exactly where and when you…

Dear Mary: What can I do about guests who don’t know how to wash up properly?

29 March 2014 9:00 am

Q. I have three spare bedrooms in London and I welcome friends to come and stay. Unfortunately, some of these…

Dear Mary: How long must I wait to tuck in?

22 March 2014 9:00 am

Q. I am always making or receiving phone calls which get cut off. When I ring the person back their…

Dear Mary: Is there any way to wriggle out of a phone invitation?

15 March 2014 9:00 am

Q. Is there a tactful way to keep one social offer on hold while waiting to see if you have…

Flann O'Brien (on right) in the Palace Bar in Dublin (Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty)

Was Flann O'Brien at his best when writing about drink? (Answers on a damp stressed envelope, please)

1 February 2014 9:00 am

On his deathbed in Dublin in the spring of 1966, Flann O’Brien must have been squiffy from tots of Paddy.…

Dear Mary: How to stop cinema iPhone pests

1 February 2014 9:00 am

Q. At a private screening of a documentary about the artist David Bomberg, a woman sitting near me in the…

The view from the trapped ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy

Global warming's glorious ship of fools

11 January 2014 9:00 am

Eco-warriors stranded in the Antarctic! It’s too good to be true

Woolley Grange

Tanya Gold: Child-friendly, sex-free, nut-heavy – just the hotel for my 40th birthday

11 January 2014 9:00 am

Woolley Grange is a child-friendly country house hotel that seems, at first, entirely monstrous — a grey Tudor house in…

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Curtains for kitty! How to care for cats — and how to kill them

7 December 2013 9:00 am

The New Yorker has always had a peculiar affinity with cats, perhaps because they have a lot in common —…