High life

High life | 1 November 2012

New York Trains and buses have shut down, people have been evacuated from eastern New Jersey and the southern tip of Manhattan, and as of writing Hurricane Sandy has hit and hit hard: 65 million residents on the north-east of America have been affected, New York Hospital’s main power has blown up and seriously ill

Low life

Low life | 1 November 2012

On the Thursday night, my grandson had another asthma attack. Because my boy had had a few drinks before going to bed, granddad had to get up and drive everybody to the hospital. That night I had an hour’s sleep. On the Friday night I had no sleep at all. Check-in time for my flight

Real life

Real life | 1 November 2012

Stefano the Albanian was delighted to hear from me. He was really cross when I got myself a builder boyfriend, which he regarded as a terrible sort of betrayal. He knew something was up when I rang to cancel the spare room renovations. The builder boyfriend had promised to do it for free. On no

More from life

Long life | 1 November 2012

Edward Heath may have been one of the most unsuccessful prime ministers in British history, having presided during his four-year term (1970–1974) over shortages, power cuts, a three-day week and hyperinflation, with nothing much to boast about except getting Britain into the European Common Market (admittedly an historic achievement); but this did not prevent him

Decadent Brits

I’m currently in Marrakech for half-term and was planning on writing a column about how disappointed my children are by this cosmopolitan city. To them, it’s not exotic at all. On the contrary, it’s indistinguishable from large swaths of west London. My four-year-old woke up in the taxi taking us from the airport to our

Spectator Sport

Ugly face of the beautiful game

Football, bloody hell, as that old bruiser Sir Alex Ferguson twinkled bibulously at the turn of the century. But it’s not looking so good now, Sir Alex. Bloody hell, it’s in a pretty dark place: the game’s a beauty of course, but otherwise nothing but racial abuse, wholesale cheating, assault, shocking levels of officiating and

Dear Mary

Dear Mary | 1 November 2012

Q. I cannot help but notice an alarming prevalence of disturbing eating habits among the middle-aged. Being 13 years of age complicates the matter as I feel it is not my place to comment on horrific table manners. I dread those moments when the vile sounds of those enjoying their gluttony penetrate my eardrums and,


Dog stars

Bubbledogs is a restaurant from cinema. It is violently 1980s, American and flash. The sign Bubbledogs shines neon pink from the window, a twin to Tom Cruise’s Cocktails & Dreams sign which twinkled at the end of Cocktail (1988) to say his narrative arc was done. He owned his own cocktail bar, even if drunken

Mind your language


When I heard on the BBC that an organisation in St Petersburg named after St Basil the Great taught teenagers on probation the art of parkour I didn’t understand what was meant. Parkour is, I learn, a variant of free-running — moving rapidly and freely over or around the obstacles presented by an urban environment