High life

High life | 1 June 2017

I feel like an obituary writer, what with Nick Scott, Roger Moore, Alistair Horne — all great buddies — and now my oldest and closest friend, Aleko Goulandris, dead at 90. Mind you, they all had very good lives: plenty of women, lots of fun, accomplishments galore, and many children and grandchildren. And they all

Low life

Low life | 1 June 2017

My latest bed partner is a seven-year-old lad. That first night we slept together in my double bed, I hardly got a wink. Vivid dreams made him lash out at me in his sleep with kicks and flailing arms. In the morning I opened my eyes and his clear blue eyes, three inches from mine,

Real life

Real life | 1 June 2017

‘You’re probably excited about your new service and keen to start using it as soon as you can,’ said the email from BT, not quite taking the words out of my mouth. I’m sorry to be difficult, but I just want Wi-Fi. I don’t want to get excited. I’ve been excited numerous times over the

Wild life

Wild life | 1 June 2017

The guests at my brother-in-law Rick’s 70th birthday lunch party were distinguished, silver-haired, well heeled. Long before Rick rescued the Rothschild’s giraffe from extinction, and did so many other things for wildlife conservation in Africa, I remember him and his friends in the 1970s. The chap sitting opposite me at table, now big in IT,

More from life

Race, gender and a terrifying witch hunt

A leading article appeared in Nature last week in defence of intelligence research. It lamented the fact that it is not included on the undergraduate psychology curricula of many leading US universities, and attributed this to its association in the minds of students and faculties with elitism and racism. That, in turn, is due to

Dear Mary

Dear Mary | 1 June 2017

Q. I am a member of a well-known country house opera society, and I organise annual trips to performances for a group of friends. We all look forward to these very much, as we don’t see each other as often as we would like. As the member, I have to stump up a large sum


Rosé-tinted glasses

It was a typical bank holiday. Usual English weather: glorious, until you leave home without a brolly. Then fickleness supervenes — just like the opinion polls. I was pressed by anxious enquiries. ‘You’re supposed to know about these things. There’s no chance of Corbyn winning, surely?’ On the assumption that enough of the sovereign people

Mind your language


When Dickens wanted to buy a house in 1837, he wrote to Richard Bentley, who had started the magazine in which Oliver Twist was to be serialised, saying he had mentioned his name ‘among those of other references, to testify to my being “sober and honest”.’ Some people seem to think it was this kind

The Wiki Man

Don’t look for any merit in meritocracy

A few years ago, someone asked me how to fix social care costs for the elderly. One eventual idea of ours was that, at age 65, people could pledge to pay a higher level of inheritance tax as a form of insurance against social care costs. If, say, you pledged £20,000 of the value of