High life

High life | 3 November 2016

Sixty years ago this week all hell broke loose: Soviet tanks rumbled into Budapest and put down a nationalist uprising in a very bloody manner. Down south Anglo-French paratroopers jumped into the Sinai and, in cahoots with the Israelis, took over the Suez Canal in a last gasp of colonialism by the Europeans. And in

Low life

Low life | 3 November 2016

‘Look at them, they’re all fat,’ he said. I’d slowed the car to allow four children to cross the zebra crossing. One of them secretly signalled thanks on behalf of them all as they trooped across. Polite. But they were all indeed a little on the plump side. ‘Even in France they’re getting fat now,’

Real life

Real life | 3 November 2016

For three months after I move to the country, I am told, I am going to be in the most almighty panic. I will ask myself repeatedly what on earth I have done. I will have sleepless nights worrying that I should never have left London. I will wake in a sweat in the early

More from life

Long life | 3 November 2016

For almost 400 years, since it was built on the orders of Pope Urban VIII in the 17th century, the grand Apostolic Palace at Castel Gandolfo on a lake in the Alban Hills south of Rome has been the place where popes have retreated to get away from the city’s summer heat. John Paul II

Looking after Leo

I’ve just spent a day looking after our one-year-old vizsla and, to be blunt, I have some sympathy with Michael Heseltine’s decision to strangle his mother’s alsatian. Not that my wife is out of town. Rather, I’ve just got a new job as director of the New Schools Network, a charity that helps groups set

Wine Club

Wine Club 5 November

We’re with my alma mater Berry Bros & Rudd this week featuring some of their excellent own selection wines. I was quite bowled over by their quality, as indeed I was by the generosity of wine director Mark Pardoe’s discounts. In fact I strongly recommend you start your festive stockpiling right here, right now. Why

Dear Mary

Dear Mary | 3 November 2016

Q. Some elderly friends of mine love to entertain in their London club on their visits, but a problem arises when their London friends want to reciprocate. Recently one of these gave a special dinner for them in her flat, taking enormous trouble with the food. However, the stress of getting there — they are both


From Bordeaux to Nato

An aeon ago, when I was first invited to the odd City lunch, there was a standard formula: G&T, white, red, port, brandy, cigars, with stumps drawn at around a Test match tea interval. But there was a problem. By 8 a.m. local time, when Manhattan was champing at the telephone, London would be at

Mind your language


Staring at a brown envelope, my husband said: ‘I’ll deal with that post-breakfast,’ and then laughed as though he had made a joke. In his mind it was a play on words, the unspoken words being post-Brexit. It is true that no one is safe from that phrase these days. As a compound adjective, it’s

The Wiki Man

How to carry less baggage

One fairly reliable rule of thumb is ‘never buy anything at an airport if you can help it’. Something about the peculiar atmosphere of airports makes people act in strange ways. I used to find myself buying plug adapters simply because they were a slightly different colour from the ones I already had in my