After Life

Damian Thompson

The real reason I don’t drink

It’s been 30 years this month since I last touched alcohol and I still can’t face the prospect of a social event without drinking. Other people drinking, that is. I’m terrified by the thought of going back on the sauce again, but that doesn’t mean I want to hang around with teetotallers who’ve never had

Real life

A meeting with my past in an NHS hospital

Pushing through a crowded hospital corridor behind my father, I heard a voice calling me. Then a nurse grabbed me and threw her arms around me. She had heard my father’s name and recognised me, her old school friend from St Joseph’s. As we walked and talked, she told me, ‘We all read your articles’

More from life

How to make ham and parsley sauce

Poor old parsley sauce. As someone who writes regularly about old-fashioned food, it often feels that we are living through a golden revival of vintage dishes. You can’t move for cookbook concepts pinned on comfort and nostalgia, or restaurants attempting to take the diner on some kind of Proustian journey. Whether it’s nursery food, school

No sacred cows

Who decides which politicians are liars? 

This week the Welsh parliament has been debating a law that would ban politicians from lying. Assuming it ends up on the statute books, any member of the Senedd, or candidate standing to be a member, found guilty of the new criminal offence of ‘deception’ will have to give up being a politician for at

Spectator Sport

The strikers giving Southgate a headache

Poor Gareth Southgate. Having three outstanding finishers is giving him a thumping headache ahead of the European Championship. Harry Kane, Jude Bellingham and Phil Foden are thrilling football crowds with their goal-scoring talents in three of the best domestic leagues in the world. Most national team managers would welcome such a golden trio: but for

Dear Mary


‘Vital but fraying’: Five Guys reviewed

Five Guys is a burger house from Arlington, Virginia, based on the premise that if you can serve a drink, cut a fringe, or make a hamburger, you will always make money in America. Thirty years and 1,700 restaurants later, it sits on Coventry Street off Piccadilly, soaking up the alcohol of a thousand British

Mind your language

Can MPs really defect? 

‘He did it years before William Donaldson did The Henry Root Letters,’ said my husband querulously, as though I had accused him on peak-time television of saying the opposite. The ‘he’ in question was Humphry Berkeley, who as a Cambridge undergraduate just after the second world war pursued an elaborate hoax by assuming the identity



Something of the faded dandy hangs about God’s moth-eaten evening coat, his worn-out cloth-uppers. He seems to be cruising lost time in search of fellow flâneurs who might remember him from the good old days before he dyed his hair. He holds out a threadbare mauve suede glove as if begging forgiveness from the crowds

No Pisen el Césped

My son, who’s never been allowed to tread on the scarce, yellowed lawns back in Spain, hesitantly takes a few steps in Priory Park, glances back, checks for approval, then breaks into a wild canter. And I, who played in our garden all summer long and who took it for granted, learn the amazement  of

The turf

Amo Racing’s Flat supremacy

You don’t often walk into a racing yard and find the trainer engrossed with two owners –apropos of horse names – discussing the role in the French Revolution of Count Mirabeau,  but Dominic Ffrench Davis is a rounded man. When I first met Dominic 25 years ago he was a young start-up trainer who’d had