High life

High life | 1 February 2018

Gstaad I caught a whiff of it as it rolled in from the east, the smell of hypocrisy being different from others that penetrate our olfactory nerves in everyday life. It was coming from Davos and it had a Graeco-Roman flavour to it. The prime ministers of those once upon a time great countries, Greece

Low life

Low life | 1 February 2018

At three o’clock I took half a bottle of Glenmorangie with me to Jimmy’s. That it was Burns Night, and Jimmy happens to be a proud Scot, was mere coincidence. When I walked in, Jimmy was putting finishing surgical touches to the back of a bullet-head. ‘Do you drink whisky, Jimmy?’ I said. ‘Oh aye,’

Real life

Real life | 1 February 2018

‘Please, could you just clean my teeth?’ I want to say, only I don’t. I go along with it, praying it will be over quicker if I cooperate. ‘And how are you today?’ she says in a frighteningly polite voice, a flash of steel glinting in her eyes as she looks down on me in

More from life

The turf | 1 February 2018

If there hasn’t yet been a hurricane called Bryony there should be. The impact of Bryony Frost, just 22, this jumping season has been quite extraordinary. Since turning professional last summer, the 5lb claiming conditional has won six races on Black Corton, including the Kauto Star Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day, making her only

Wine Club

Wine Club 3 February

Good grief, I’m glad that’s over. Dry January, that is. The worst thing was that for most of it I slept terribly and invariably woke with what can only be described as a hangover: throbbing head, aching eyes and dreadful feelings of remorse for having drunk too much the night before (not to mention for

No sacred cows

Disliking Blue Peter made me the man I am today

When I tell my children about my own childhood, they often express disbelief about how wretched it was. No Xbox? No YouTube? No Snapchat? What on earth did I do with myself? But the thing they cannot get their heads around is that I had only three television channels to choose from. They live in

Dear Mary

Dear Mary | 1 February 2018

Q. My wife and I have been invited to a small but formal dinner in the presence of some impressive fellow guests. I don’t want to disappoint her but I have developed a neurosis in situations where, if it would be a breach of etiquette to leave the table to go to the loo, I


The true island spirit

Arran, in the Firth of Clyde, is an island whose charms vary with the seasons. In summer, the hills are verdant. By midwinter, there is a grandeur of rock and snow. These days, the attractions are enhanced by a better class of visitor. Time was, when it suffered from proximity to Glasgow, but the Gorbals-ites

Mind your language


Grooming is a horrible phenomenon of modern life when it happens to abused children. Yet a magazine such as GQ can announce the ‘Eight best grooming products in the world this week’. The GQ grooming is not of children, nor yet of horses, but of men at their own hands. Identical words can thrive in

The Wiki Man

The Presidents Club was on to something

There exist in the annals of salesmanship certain ideas that are both highly immoral and wickedly clever. Before P. T. Barnum attached his name to circuses, he ran Barnum’s American Museum in Manhattan. From 1841 until its destruction by fire in 1865, this received more than 38 million visitors, each paying 25c. The entry fee