High life

The dying art of sports commentary

Wimbledon is here at last, after its absence in 2020. What struck me watching the French Open on television a couple of weeks before was just how much rubbish I had to listen to if I kept the sound on. There are now too many matches broadcast, which means more and more commentators spouting off

Low life

It’s the end of lockdown – and the village has gone wild

The village square is a long and pedestrianised oblong shaded along its length by massive pollarded plane trees. It’s known as ‘le Cours’. There’s a Tabac and a Spar and an ancient fountain that children play on and a shop selling Panama hats. Otherwise le Cours is dominated by the tables and chairs of a

Real life

The National Trust delinquents strike again

The woman sat alone and stony-faced in the passenger seat of the car as it blocked the road. She was wearing a mask, but I could see that she wore the blankly determined expression of someone who thought they had every right to stop where they liked. Sure enough, the National Trust sticker was on

Wild life

How WhatsApp mums saved Kenya’s castaway children

Kenya In March, Global Britain signed a new, post-Brexit trade deal with Kenya. This was a welcome agreement for my homeland, where the pandemic has caused tremendous economic suffering, but where comparatively few deaths have occurred among the fit, young population. Weeks later, on 9 April, the UK condemned its former colony to the red

No sacred cows

My problem with the Euros

I’m struggling to work up much enthusiasm about England’s progress in the Euros. I know, I know, Tuesday night’s victory was the first time England has beaten Germany in the knockout stage of a tournament in 55 years — and the moment Gareth Southgate, the team manager, finally made amends for missing his penalty in

Dear Mary


A new take on New Zealand wine

‘The doors clap to, the pane is bright with showers.’ With ‘summer’ determined to do its worst, there is one obvious question. How were the English able to invent cricket and tennis? Apropos tennis, there is another obvious question. How long will Wimbledon remain mired in sexism? It has now been established beyond peradventure that

Mind your language

Does it matter if Priti Patel drops her Gs?

In 1923 in Whose Body? we were introduced to Lord Peter Wimsey on his way to an auction where he hoped to buy a Caxton folio from 1489 of The Four Sons of Aymon. But he had forgotten his catalogue, so said to the cab driver: ‘D’you mind puttin’ back to where we came from?’


Local History

This morning I took the Coasthopper from Burnham Overy Staithe to Sheringham, boarded breathless, had to run. The driver said next time put out your hand. The ‘George Vancouver’ stops for everyone! Our buses start from Lynn. They’ve all got names, one’s called ‘Black Shuck’ after the dog who spooks the coast. ‘Fanny Billingham’ was


I am standing in a whitewashed cell. I am wearing a sheet with a hole cut in the middle. I piss in a pail that is skinned with ice. The bed is a nightmare installation, twists of rusted iron and wood. A grubby blindfold keeps me warm. Pain is chucking smashed bits of stars at

The Wiki Man

Why I won’t buy a Tesla

I loved the Ford Mustang Mach-E which I had on loan for four days. It was gorgeous to drive, and slightly saner than the Tesla Model 3 — in that some of the controls involve physical switches and buttons, rather than an on-screen interface. The only annoyance was a persistent whining noise. This came from