Low life

The woman laid out in the coffin in front of us wasn’t Mum

14 September 2019 9:00 am

The receptionist with brown lipstick showed my son and me into a faultless waiting room, whose centrepiece was a big…

The mysterious ways of the French

7 September 2019 9:00 am

These new tablets that will save or at least prolong my life have unpredictable side effects which only now, a…

Catriona’s accident has made of us minor celebrities in the village

31 August 2019 9:00 am

Three weeks ago Catriona was going to the village shop when a building site security fence fell on her. Wire…

How Captain Mainwaring lightened my mother’s dying days

24 August 2019 9:00 am

On Saturday evening I showered, shaved and, prompted by a strange impulse, put on my going-out clothes. Then I cycled…

Within 24 hours of my positive diagnosis I was back with Catriona in beautiful Brignoles (illustration, 1873)

A day spent in Oncology

17 August 2019 9:00 am

A 20-minute drive through quiet country lanes then suddenly a madcap roundabout and teeming new ring road and finally the…

Credit: mingazitdinov

Do I have cancer in my left eye?

10 August 2019 9:00 am

My luck had to run out one of these fine days. Everybody’s does sooner or later. I’ve had a fantastic…

Dartmoor Prison: nice setting, but only for a visit

A trip to Dartmoor Prison with my grandson and his cousin

3 August 2019 9:00 am

To find oneself in a cast-iron cell in a granite prison on Dartmoor: hard to retain a sense of humour

Evelyn Waugh sat for Henry Lamb in his Poole studio in 1928. We went to the pub where Waugh wrote Decline and Fall – interesting!

A literary lunch that hits an unforeseen buffer

27 July 2019 9:00 am

‘So what are your plans?’ said our gentle, civilised Airbnb host over a tray of tea and cake to welcome…

Italy, in seven hours and five trains

20 July 2019 9:00 am

The train standing at platform 1A had no air-conditioning and the heat was stupefying. Latecomers pressing into the carriage reacted…

Tuscany’s killer climate

13 July 2019 9:00 am

The hotel manager had arranged for me to borrow an Alfa Romeo Spider Duetto two-seater convertible (1982) for the afternoon.…

Credit: Dean Mitchell

Why can’t my mother be allowed to die at home

6 July 2019 9:00 am

As they say: it all happened so quickly that it wasn’t until afterwards. One minute I was bawling at my…

My oncologist is a shining goddess

29 June 2019 9:00 am

The weather forecast was rain, torrential, all day, so I took my anorak. In the hospital car park it was…

Up close and personal with Thomas Hardy

22 June 2019 9:00 am

I walked in out of the rain, dripping, and sat down beside the fire on the primitive high-backed settle. ‘Is…

The joy of my local paper

15 June 2019 9:00 am

As usual I go downstairs at five o’clock in the morning and into the dining room, which now serves as…

Why being poor is always more expensive in the long run

8 June 2019 8:00 am

Of course the varifocals I bought online were a waste of money. When they came in the post and I…

What my mother’s death means for Brexit

1 June 2019 9:00 am

Considerate to the last, she had her order of service arranged in her mind. I sat close with my notebook.…

Banana leaf, wood-effect or knitted? Choosing my mother’s coffin

25 May 2019 9:00 am

The mental fruit of yet another sleepless night was that my mother was determined to arrange her funeral as quickly…

Will the Mistral drive me to murder?

11 May 2019 9:00 am

So far this latest Mistral wind has blown for two and a half weeks. The Mistral is said to blow…

Meet Santini: the world’s worst tourist guide

4 May 2019 9:00 am

Santino was unusually short in the leg and, in his mid-twenties, was already rapidly losing his hair. He had recently…

The sordid tale of my last pint of scrumpy

27 April 2019 9:00 am

‘How’s your day going?’ said the taxi driver as he snapped his knob into drive. If I caught the plane…

A moral dilemma on my freebie holiday

20 April 2019 9:00 am

We drove north and parked in the designated car park with a quarter of an hour to spare before the…

I took Oscar to Provence - in business class!

13 April 2019 9:00 am

In the Easter holidays, plus two school days, for which his mother will be fined or, as a serial offender,…

Am I about to be usurped by Philippe, our handsome French gardener?

6 April 2019 9:00 am

We have a gardener, Philippe, who comes once a week. He lives in a ruin a little way down the…

I’m making a cave disco in the south of France

30 March 2019 9:00 am

I’ve swapped my carer’s tray in Devon for a barrow and spade halfway up a cliff in the south of…

After ten weeks spent caring for my mother, I had to relearn the art of conversation

23 March 2019 9:00 am

I said my goodbyes and went outside with my trolley bag to wait for the taxi. While waiting, I looked…