High life

High Life | 5 July 2008

‘My legs are leaden, my throat is dry and I feel slightly sick with anxiety. As I make my way towards the arena the roar of the crowd gets louder. One question keeps edging into the small part of my mind which is functioning normally: what on earth are the combatants going through if I

Low life

Low life | 5 July 2008

An extraordinary email from theatre critic Mr Lloyd Evans arrived in my inbox last week. He’d written a play, it said, a two-hander, and one of the characters was based on me. He’d based the character on me after we’d met at a Spectator Christmas lunch five years ago. The play was opening at the

Real life

Real Life

The following events took place in a Lambeth Council parking shop just off Streatham High Road. The names have been changed to protect the innocent. This report contains scenes that some readers may find deeply disturbing. Melinda, a Lambeth resident, has just walked into a stark, white, newly refurbished ‘customer centre’. She is greeted by

More from life

Status Anxiety | 5 July 2008

Being muzzled is a very frustrating experience for a journalist. When the story broke last week that Sean Langan had been kidnapped in a remote region of Pakistan — he was released on 21 June after a long and tortuous negotiation — I got a stream of email messages from mutual friends saying, ‘Did you

Spectator Sport

Spectator Sport | 5 July 2008

If Gordon Brown really wants to make people start liking him, he could do a lot worse than turn to whoever’s giving mighty Andy Murray some advice these days. For what was obvious in that stunning, thrilling, epic, heart-pumping comeback to beat France’s Richard Gasquet in what was basically a night match on the Centre

Dear Mary

Dear Mary | 5 July 2008

Q. I want to give a drinks party for 200 friends. The alcohol is within my budget. Most of my friends are recovering alcoholics and the others are too old to binge drink, but I have been quoted £30 a head for food. I do not want to pay £6,000 for, effectively, a few kilos


The Table | 5 July 2008

What passes for summer is finally upon us in the British Isles. Between bouts of rain, we can finally inhale the sun-tan oil, note that last year’s swimsuit seems to have shrunk over the winter and fire up the barbecue. Cooking outdoors connects us to our hunter-gatherer ancestors, and, while the Oxford Culinary Conference undoubtedly

Mind your language

Mind Your Language | 5 July 2008

It was either Kung Fu Panda or Prince Caspian, so I took my nephew and niece to the latter. Aunts are only flesh and blood. A trailer for the Panda film featured him exclaiming ‘Awesome!’ Strangely enough this word is used in C.S. Lewis’s novel, about Aslan’s How, though not in the film. Awesome does