High life

High life | 4 April 2019

New York   It was 51 years ago, in the Hôtel du Cap d’Antibes, that I first met the man whose opioid product has, along with other prescription opioids, killed more than 200,000 Americans. Mortimer Sackler looked old even back then. He had a Noo Yawk accent and, even though we’d never been introduced, approached

Low life

Low life | 4 April 2019

We have a gardener, Philippe, who comes once a week. He lives in a ruin a little way down the cliff, which he is carefully and sensitively restoring using traditional materials and techniques. Philippe is in his late twenties, single, tall, slender, beautiful, hard-working, ambitious, educated, courtly, gentle, speaks good English and has a ponytail

Real life

Real life | 4 April 2019

After all that waiting and arguing, I must say I thoroughly enjoyed leaving the EU. The builder boyfriend and I celebrated by popping the cork on a bottle of Denbies bubbly and flying his old yacht’s backstay union flag in the dining room window, which saves me buying curtains. The builder b drank the Dorking

Wild life

Wild life | 4 April 2019

East Africa   The late Michael Meacher represented almost everything I loathe in a politician. Before his death in 2015, this veteran Labour MP was Jeremy Corbyn’s ardent fan. He had served under Wilson and Callaghan and he was so left-wing he earned the nickname Tony Benn’s ‘vicar on earth’. Yet when I compare Michael

Wine Club

Corbyn might win office, but he’ll struggle to win power

The vote of no confidence in Dominic Grieve shows the Tories are, like Labour, vulnerable to bolshiness in their own local associations. In fact, the Conservatives might turn out to be more effective at purging MPs because, for all of the noise, the Corbynites have not done much. And if Jeremy Corbyn ends up in

Revealed: the Cabinet bust-up over May’s soft Brexit plan

When Theresa May stood in 10 Downing Street earlier this evening and announced that she would try and break the Brexit logjam by liaising with Jeremy Corbyn, she gave the impression of speaking with cabinet backing. However, the full story is now emerging. In a stormy seven-hour meeting, minister after minister protested at her proposal

No sacred cows

The unbearable consequences of a joke

I was surprised to learn that the novelist Milan Kundera celebrated his 90th birthday on Monday. I had no idea he was still alive. He has taken up residence in that old people’s home that many former luminaries of western culture now occupy — the one with the sign above the door saying ‘Forgotten, but

Spectator Sport

Was the Checkatrade the best football of the year?

Sometimes you fear for Neil Warnock. The embattled Cardiff manager is 70 and operates at level 11 all the time; quite how long before the old boy explodes is a worry-ing question. But he was quite right to combust over some appalling refereeing decisions during his Cardiff side’s completely undeserved defeat by Chelsea at the

Dear Mary

Dear Mary | 4 April 2019

Q. A woman I’ve known for years is getting divorced and rings me every day to talk about it. I have closer friends with ongoing problems and, though I do care, I don’t have the emotional energy or time to deal with her problem as well. I work and she never has, so she can’t


Garlic and easy listening

I grew up in south-west London in the 1970s when Italian restaurants had exposed brick walls and paper tablecloths in red and white squares and giant pepper pots and were owned by people called Franco who slapped your father on the back. The lasagne came in individual dishes, oozing deep red tomato sauce so hot

Mind your language

Shame on you

In 1663, just before Samuel Pepys visited the stables of the elegant Thomas Povey, where he found the walls were covered with Dutch tiles, like his own fireplaces, he was worrying about Navy pay. People who were owed money by the Navy had to apply for it at a goldsmith’s shop, where they would have to