High life

High life | 5 November 2011

New York According to Virgil, Libyans are ‘a people rude in peace and rough in war’. The old boy wrote this a couple of thousand years ago, so we have to cut him some slack. And he was obviously not speaking about the present rabble. As far as I’m concerned, most Libyans are human biohazards.

Low life

Low life | 5 November 2011

Before I went to the party, I went to the pub for a pint. The pub was unusually quiet for a Saturday evening. Jay was on duty behind the bar. She leaned across the bar to embrace and kiss me. She had a terrible hangover, she said. I told her to have one herself, and

Real life

Real life | 5 November 2011

Sometimes I don’t suspect the world has gone mad, I know it. For example, I took a black cab home from the theatre the other night and, as we passed Tooting Common, the driver wound down his window and threw a handful of raw sausages out of it. I tapped the glass politely and asked

Wild life

Wild life | 5 November 2011

Kenya I am proud of Kenya for taking on Muslim extremists in southern Somalia. Rather wisely, the Kenyan military has so far prevented hacks from reaching the field. But for anybody in the outside world who cares, this is not a new battle. Operations against Somalis of varying types of fanaticism have been mounted since

More from life

Status Anxiety | 5 November 2011

The period that stretches from Halloween to Guy Fawkes Night has got to be the worst week of the year if you’re a parent of young children. At the time of writing, I’ve managed to get through one and have one to go. I vaguely recall attending a few Halloween parties as a youth, but

Dear Mary

Dear Mary: your problems solved | 5 November 2011

Q. I appear in a reality television show — perhaps unreality would be a more accurate description. The erroneous impression that I am fabulously rich has been so well conveyed that, when having dinner with new acquaintances, I sense a certain anticipation that I will be happy to pick up the bill. Most of my


Drink: A banker’s redemption

I have a friend who brought shame on his family. Rupert Birch was educated at Westminster and the House. Descending from a long line of writers, artists and journalists, he was admirably qualified for a distinguished career of cultivated indigence. Instead, he became a banker. But the fall of man can be followed by redemption.

Mind your language


A baffling news report appeared last week in the newspaper that I read while I was waiting for my husband to have his hair cut — long enough considering how little he still has. ‘Traditional British words are dying out, because text speak has become so popular, research has found,’ said the report. Right, texters

The Wiki Man

The Wiki Man: Next bus

True or not, there is a persistent story about a former Duke of Devonshire who, seeing some silver napkin rings in Asprey’s, asked his companion what they were for. ‘Your grace, in some households they roll napkins inside these rings so that they can be used for a subsequent meal, rather than being laundered every