High life

High Life | 3 January 2019

Gstaad My annual end-of-year party in the Bagel was a bust. Too many people brought their friends and I ended up asking men and women to please leave both my bedroom and, especially, my bathroom. I had some very pretty young things drop in. Some even overstayed and — surprise, surprise — there were some

Low life

Low life | 3 January 2019

The Airbnb accommodation at Paddington, chez Mohammed, was a fourth-floor room measuring about nine feet by five. As well as having a single bed, this small space was extraordinarily well equipped, with a wardrobe, huge fridge, sink, draining board, ironing board, microwave oven, kettle, two electric hobs, a set of saucepans and enough cutlery and

Real life

Real Life | 3 January 2019

1 January. Rooms left in house to decorate: 1 (only the attic, therefore doesn’t count).Walls plastered by self with no help from man: 1 (vg!!). Reconciliations with ex-builder boyfriend for the festive season owing to total collapse of self-belief right on cue at year end, notwithstanding evidence of self-sufficiency in newly plastered walls: 1 (must

More from life

Tuning up to Linz

You never know who you might meet on a river cruise. It was my 89-year-old father-in-law, Noel, who first recognised a tall, professorial man only a few years younger than him remonstrating with an uninterested official at Munich airport about a pre-paid taxi to Passau, where we were due to board our ship. ‘That’s Humphrey

The capital of nowhere

‘Welcome to the free territory of Trieste,’ reads the sign in the shop window. ‘US and UK come back!’ For me, this is the sort of thing that makes Trieste such a beguiling place. Sixty-four years since those British and American troops departed and handed this disputed seaport back to Italy, it still feels like

The turf | 3 January 2019

I don’t know who coined the old racing saying ‘The only person who remembers who came second is the guy who came second’ but he was wrong. What draws us aficionados to racetracks on blazing summer afternoons when we would be better off in a swimming pool, or on soggy winter days when sensible folk

The rock of ages past

How lazy, snobbish and wrong it is to mock Gibraltar for the lager and fish and chips clichés. Yes, you can get lager and fish and chips there; nothing wrong with  that. The pint of lager I had in a pub in Gibraltar Main Street was excellent. And the funny thing is that, unlike consciously

Wine Club

Now is not the time to change tack on migration

Of what is happening on the Channel, we know this for certain: it is not a crisis. Only 239 foreign nationals have crossed unauthorised since November, a rounding error in the 625,000 legal migrants and 15,170 asylum seekers and other protectees granted leave in the UK in the year to June 2018. We know this

The euro is the most dysfunctional currency ever created

Even by his usual standards of self-satire, Jean-Claude Juncker was on top form to open the new year. As he uncorked his final bottle of wine for the year, the president of the European Commission found time to blast out a tweet celebrating the twentieth anniversary of the launch of the euro. It has, according

No sacred cows

The great awokening

Is the social justice movement that’s sweeping British and American universities a secular religion? The core beliefs of the members of this cult certainly seem to play the same psychological role as the central tenets of the world’s major religions. They furnish their adherents with rituals and blasphemy laws, a way of distinguishing between the

Dear Mary

Dear Mary | 3 January 2019

Q. Whenever I go to the theatre or cinema with any man of 60-plus, he falls asleep, even when the play or film is of a high standard. Should I wake him up? With a West End play particularly, it seems an awful waste of a ticket. (I am referring only to silent snoozing. If


Comfort in chaos

It appeared to be an uneven contest. A few friends were meeting for a festive wine-tasting, to compare and contrast some interesting bottles. The clarets opened with an Angelus ’98, a superb wine from an outstanding year. In response, the Palmer ’04 seemed to be outgunned. But, gaining strength from a bit more time in

Mind your language

Moral hazard

‘Heads. Heads. Heads. Heads,’ said my husband, tossing an imaginary coin. The same improbability was amusing when Rosencrantz won the toss 92 times in a row in Tom Stoppard’s play (1966). We know the odds for the next toss are 50-50, but we can’t help thinking it morally impossible for the lucky streak to go

The Wiki Man

Economics is having an identity crisis

It has become commonplace for news reports to refer to almost any civic unrest, or even unusual patterns of voting, as evidence of ‘resurgent nationalism’ — implicitly suggesting a visceral hatred of foreigners and a desire to set the clock back to the glory days of racial homogeneity and casual homophobia. We should be wary