High life

High life | 1 December 2016

Richard Spencer made the front page of the New York Times two days in a row last week, and earned a half-page report on the third day. For any of you who have never heard of him — and very few have — he is described by the mendacious Times as the leader of the

Low life

Low life | 1 December 2016

My mother is a bore magnet. They travel from miles around to sit in the chair opposite hers and tell her every last detail of their lives in a protracted monologue and then they leave. It’s like a surgery. One after another they appear at the door, bursting with a narrative of their incredible lives.

Real life

Real life | 1 December 2016

‘How was your week?’ I asked my friend as we rode our horses to Bookham Common. ‘Fine,’ she said. ‘Except the other day I got caught in a yellow box. £65.’ ‘Me too!’ I said. ‘Where was yours?’ ‘Kingston,’ she said. ‘Mine was in Raynes Park,’ I said. ‘£65. Junction of Coombe Lane and Durham

More from life

Long life | 1 December 2016

Most people who die in Britain are now cremated — more than 70 per cent of them — but there is often uncertainty among the bereaved about what to do with the ashes. When dead bodies aren’t burnt, it is straightforward: they are buried in coffins. But the options for the ashes of the dead

Snowflakes in the workplace

Last week I was asked to give a talk about generation snowflake. This was at a breakfast organised by a recruitment company called GTI Solutions and the idea was that I would provide an urban anthropologist’s take on this new tribe for the benefit of their corporate clients, most of whom are thinking about how

Dear Mary

Dear Mary | 1 December 2016

Q. I don’t go to my club that often but the other day I found a letter there waiting for me from an elderly cousin, also a member, whose home is in Scotland where he lives alone. The letter announces that he is down south until January and asks whether he might spend Christmas with


Bottle shots

This is something to be said for starting to celebrate Christmas before the end of the grouse season. It provides a good excuse for opening the odd bottle. Apropos bottles, the club of that name has not featured on this page for some time. That is not because of idleness. One Bottle is single-handedly defending

Mind your language


‘When I asked the bank,’ said my husband, ‘they were no help at all.’ My attention was distracted from his Kafkaesque predicament, which is both typical and too complicated to explain. Instead I was pondering the reference to the bank as they. This is well established in British English. The bank, Sainsbury’s or England (the

The Wiki Man

Scandals that make you switch off

Do any of us honestly have any idea how serious the Hillary Clinton email scandal was? I haven’t got a clue. Her actions could have been a neglectful oversight or a heinous criminal act. We don’t know. Clinton was an avid BlackBerry user and, on becoming secretary of state, claimed she didn’t know how to