High life

High life | 31 August 2017

I was appalled. She had asked Lord John Somerset to ask me to join her, and I rose rather unsteadily to do so. This was during a Jimmy Goldsmith ball, and I was writing the Atticus column in the Sunday Times, as well as High life. A German girlfriend of mine at the time warned

Low life

Low life | 31 August 2017

I arrived for lunch a bit late and was led to the dining table. Our hostess disappeared back into the house to bring out the food, leaving me to acquaint myself with the other guests, an Englishwoman and an American. The Englishwoman said that yesterday she had fallen off the wagon after eight weeks and

Real life

Real life | 31 August 2017

My friendly neighbourhood Lib Dems have put some campaign literature through my door. In a covering note, they intimate that they don’t understand why I can’t understand why everyone votes for them round here. The leaflet features a dozen pictures of our Lib Dem parish councillor doing good works in a variety of settings. Here,

More from life

The turf | 31 August 2017

I guess his mother may have called him Patrick, or even, when he was in trouble, ‘Patrick Joseph’, but in the racing world, like the great McCoy, the Yorkshire-based jockey P.J. McDonald is known simply by his initials. It is proving to be a very good year for ‘P.J.’ and those initials are becoming steadily

Spare me the encomiums for John le Carré

In Absolute Friends, one of John le Carré’s lesser works, the central character explains his rebirth as a left-wing firebrand, radicalised by Britain’s support for America’s invasion of Iraq. ‘It’s the old man’s impatience coming on early,’ he says. ‘It’s anger at seeing the show come round again one too many times.’ This is followed

Wine Club

Wine Club 2 September

So, that’s it then. Summer, I mean. It pushed off without ever having really arrived. There were some bizarrely scorching days in between the chill and the showers, it’s true, but I’ve barely worn my shorts, haven’t swum in the sea, only managed one day at the cricket and the lawn outside is as green

Spectator Sport

Which way will Lord’s leap?

In the rarefied circles of the sporting establishment a decision will soon be made affecting not just the future of 17 of the most hallowed acres in the land, but the very game of cricket itself. The MCC has been conducting a debate about Lord’s, primarily its redevelopment, with a nod to future expansion of

Dear Mary

Dear Mary | 31 August 2017

Q. Our best friends own a house in Morocco which sleeps about ten. They rent it out but go two or three times a year themselves and always invite as many people as they can cram in. They have much more social stamina than we have, so whenever they invite us, we beg that it


A perfect feast with Roger Allam

J Sheekey is one of Richard Caring’s older, and better, restaurants. Since he has dowsed the suburbs of London in multiple outposts of the Ivy (there is one in Wimbledon, another in Richmond and presumably one pending in Penge), J Sheekey increasingly feels like an island in a sea of pointlessly aspirational green. The rise

Mind your language


It’s like whipping cream. All of a sudden it goes stiff and you can turn the bowl upside down without it falling out. In the same way, a common mistake in speech solidifies and becomes firmly attached to the language. I don’t think bacteria has quite been whipped into a singular shape yet, even though