High life

Critics are ignoring the best play in New York

New York The concept of creativity and invention can be a doubled-edged sword. It can be fresh, uplifting and original, like the off-Broadway play directed by Michael Mailer that I’ve just seen, or it can be a phoney rip-off of a Shakespeare classic, a terrible modern take on Hamlet, blackness and homosexuality that I have

Low life

The pros and cons of kissing

Marketa stands on one side of me, Catriona on the other. Marketa is Czech and my carer. Catriona is my new wife. I’m lying on my back in dove grey flannel pyjamas. At seven I’d woken to the most excruciating pain. Where the pain is located exactly I’m not sure. It is among my various

Real life

Why I’ve sacked my estate agent

The estate agent flashed a sarcastic smile and said it wasn’t so much that the market was in a bad place, rather that my property got so much ‘negative feedback’. I stared back at her, fuming. I had popped into the offices of this agency to ask for my key back, which I forgot to

Wine Club

Wine Club: six beauties from Yapp Brothers

I’m seeing Jason Yapp next week and am deeply nervous. It’s been a while since we caught up and as followers of this column might recall, he and wicked step-brother Tom Ashworth have form in leading me astray. I think I told you about our little adventure in that backstreet bar in Biarritz. It was

No sacred cows

I’ve ridden my last rollercoaster

I was in Canada last week, travelling across British Columbia on a luxury train called the Rocky Mountaineer. It was great. The downside was I had to travel to North America and back in five days, meaning that as soon as my body clock had adjusted to the time difference I was back in England.

Dear Mary


The joy of real beer

England. Despite being a Scotsman, partly brought up in Ulster, I have taken so much Englishness for granted over so many years. So do most Englishmen, to at least as great an extent as the inhabitants of any other major country. But I hope that I am just enough of a historian to enquire about

Mind your language

Is oat milk really ‘divisive’?

The Cenotaph was called contentious in a secret Metropolitan Police report, exposed by Policy Exchange, on memorials that were open to attack for their links to war, imperialism or slavery. In reality, of course, the Cenotaph brings the nation together each Remembrance Sunday to honour our dead. In the same way, people are called divisive when


Stone Island Archipelago

They appear to believe they’ve laid the patio of everyone’s dreams: beautiful, lovingly made, fashionably disordered. You can see from their faces they’re proud of their work, proud of themselves — though it’s a haphazard, crazed mess, compounded of slabs of different sizes that simply don’t fit together — gaps chinking through — some slabs

The Waves of Chios

As when a man who has been dementing for years –old friends burst into tearswhen they see the ruins of his mindold lovers in despairlook up the rules for Dignitas – when he dies at last, gently, in deep sleepand one by one for the rest of usthe memories sweep back,how he listened, how he

The Wiki Man

The case against koalas

There was a reason 18th-century rulers were eager for their subjects to grow and eat potatoes: the miraculous tuber offered an alternative source of nutrition to grain, hence reducing bread prices. In the event of a catastrophic harvest, people could survive. To the rulers themselves, however, the biggest benefit was probably what happened when the

The turf

Kitty’s Light is the horse of the year

John Trotwood Moore, one-time State Librarian of Tennessee, was a racist and defender of the Ku Klux Klan. But in the saying for which he is best remembered he did get one thing right: ‘Wherever man has left his footprint in the long ascent from barbarism to civilisation we will find the hoofprint of the