High life

High life | 2 February 2017

When I saw an email from Lucy, the lady who has the unenviable task of editing my copy each week, I knew something was wrong. And sure enough it was. The bad news was that my first editor at my beloved Spectator had died. Forty years, gone in a jiffy. It was back in 1977,

Low life

Low life | 2 February 2017

Dr Mindlin called. I needed cheering up? If I fancied a week in Antigua as his guest I should be at Gatwick airport by 9 the next morning. I packed in 15 minutes, caught the last bus to Nice, flew to Gatwick. Next day he flew us to Antigua and we checked in at an

Real life

Real life | 2 February 2017

As if by magic, a sign that I am doing the right thing by moving out of London arrived in the post. And not a moment too soon, for with all the to-ing and fro-ing over arcane anomalies in the floorplan of my flat I had become so heartily sick of the conveyancing process I

More from life

The turf | 2 February 2017

Away from frosty Britain, lecturing my way across the Atlantic to Rio de Janeiro, life has been dominated more by Donald Trump than by Dickie Johnson with passengers seeking refuge in jokes about the new president. ‘Why does Donald Trump keep marrying foreign women?’ ‘Because there are some jobs Americans just won’t do.’ ‘What can

Rebel with a dodgy cause

I feel conflicted about Jon Platt, the parent at the centre of the court case about unauthorised school absences. On the one hand, there’s much to admire. When he was fined £120 by Isle of Wight Council for taking his daughter on a trip to Disneyland during term time, he decided to fight back. He

Wine Club

Wine Club 4 February

Phew, done it! Dry January, that is, and 31 whole days on the wretched water wagon, clinging on by my fingertips. Well, 31 whole days apart from a two-day, champagne-soaked trip to Pol Roger (about which more anon on our Spectator Wine Club website) and three days with the missus in the Loire Valley (ditto).

Spectator Sport

Should Many Clouds have been racing last Saturday?

Few things in sport are more thrilling than a great racehorse giving its all. That’s why the death of that noble steeplechaser Many Clouds on Saturday was so sad, so epic too. Courage is an over-used word in sport, but Many Clouds really was very brave indeed. He won the Grand National on strength-sapping ground

Dear Mary

Dear Mary | 2 February 2017

Q. My granddaughter has asked to use our barn for her 21st birthday dance in June. We can only sleep 30 in the house, but she won’t let me arrange billets with neighbours for the other 70, saying ‘everyone will sleep in their cars’. This seems short-sighted. It goes against the grain not to offer


Vanity project

The Waverly Inn is the house restaurant of Vanity Fair magazine in New York City. It is part-owned by Graydon Carter, the editor of Vanity Fair, whose life, at least since Trump rose, is dedicated to the realisation of social justice using his favourite weapon, which is being friends with celebrities. Carter’s political engagement is

Mind your language


Waiting for my husband in a Rome hotel, I was reduced to reading some of the weekend newspaper supplements. The Italians think themselves highly fashionable, and using words from English cements the image. La Repubblica’s weekly magazine called D has two sections with English names: Beauty and Lifestyle. Coverage of Paris Fashion Week was headlined