High life

High life | 4 February 2012

Gstaad OK, sports fans! The Davos irrelevance is over, Gstaad is covered with the white stuff, and in St Moritz the Russian crooks are laying a Stalingrad-like siege to the town’s ultra-expensive boutiques. So what else is new? Gstaad covered with snow, that’s what’s new. Let’s start with Davos, where publicity-seekers such as George Soros

Low life

Low life | 4 February 2012

Exeter airport. Check in. I’m booked on a domestic flight to Glasgow International and I’m travelling with hand luggage only. It’s a small, cheap rucksack. It contains a phone charger, a toothbrush, a plastic bottle of Head and Shoulders, a copy of the Sun, two tubs of Devonshire clotted cream, a pound of Devon cheese

Real life

Real life | 4 February 2012

‘She’s a strange one, isn’t she?’ said Long John the spaniel trainer as he put Cydney through her paces. We were in the enclosure in the field behind his house, where he had decided to train Cydney behind ten-foot-high fencing because the last time we went for a lesson we had a bit of a

More from life

Status Anxiety | 4 February 2012

I write this having just returned from the BBC, where I spent a hairy six-and-a-half minutes sticking up for Fred the Shred on Newsnight. Or, rather, attacking the Forfeiture Committee’s decision to strip him of his knighthood. My antagonist was Will Hutton, former editor of the Observer and currently the Principal of Hertford College, Oxford.

The turf: Carpe diem

He didn’t quite tap the side of his nose but, looking around and dropping his voice, one of the best-connected racecourse informants I know greeted me at Cheltenham on Saturday with the news: ‘Alan King has got the sniffles in his yard.’ Striking a line through all the inmates of King’s Barbury Castle Stables on

Dear Mary

Dear Mary | 4 February 2012

Q. We have a friend in her late sixties who has been a widow for ten years. Over that period of time we have asked her to many social occasions at our home. She has never asked us to her house. It’s reached a stage where we are starting to feel that maybe we shouldn’t


Drink: Clubbable bottles

Gentlemen’s clubs attract far more interest than they deserve, and an equally unmerited degree of mistrust. If they are not the establishment in secret conclave, they must surely be a potent means of networking — and they exclude women. As for the establishment charge: if only. The country would be better run. The networking allegation,

Mind your language

Arms race

On Start the Week, Shami Chakrabarti of Liberty spoke of an arms race in Home Office policy. She wasn’t talking about tasers or automatic weapons for policemen. Her phrase was metaphorical. Now I find that this metaphor is habitual to her. She used it when giving evidence in 2008 to the committee considering the Counter-Terrorism

The Wiki Man

The Wiki Man: The best thing since wheeled suitcases

I had a Land Rover Discovery once. It was expensive to run, largely on account of the rear visibility. The blind spot was so large that, when reversing, you had to worry not only about lurking cats, shrubs and bollards but also bungalows. I felt proud whenever I went for six months without needing to