High life

High Life | 7 March 2009

Gstaad Thirty years ago this week my daughter was three and my son had not been born. I had left Gstaad for gloomy, strike-ridden, non-stop power cuts London, and the mother of my children was peeved at me as I had begun circling the daughter of the Belgian ambassador to the Court of St James.

Low life

Low Life | 7 March 2009

An oppressively cold, overcast, drizzling sort of day. The headline in the rolled-up Sun newspaper I’m carrying is ‘Ender a Legend’. Next to that is a tribute to Wendy Richard from Jade Goody. ‘Bodmin crematorium please,’ I tell the taxi driver waiting at the station rank. On the short drive up the hill, the taxi

Slow life

Slow Life | 7 March 2009

Who knows when the sunshine of the sublime will pop out, which cloud the next wonderful thing is hiding behind? It’s rarely where I think it’s going to be. No. Inspiration never comes when it’s expected. I took Concorde once, expecting an unforgettably seamless, gentle hover in the stratosphere, a finely balanced tête-a-tête with luxury

More from life

Status Anxiety | 7 March 2009

As a new member of staff at Vanity Fair in 1995, I was given a list of words it was unacceptable to use in the magazine. A few of these reflected the personal idiosyncrasies of the editor — ‘golfer’, for instance — but most were slang terms like ‘flick’, ‘honcho’ and ‘hooker’. The message was clear:

Spectator Sport

Spectator Sport | 7 March 2009

So the war on terror is over is it? Or so we’re told by everyone from David Miliband, scuttling to put distance between himself and his former allies in Washington, to assorted senior spooks, gallantly trying to cover their backs. Even the saintly Barack has indicated that talk of ‘war on terror’ is dangerous. But

Dear Mary

Dear Mary | 7 March 2009

Q. Ten years ago, at 15, I met the closest friend of my life. We did everything together and she grew so close to my whole family that, when her own rather difficult home life became too much, she even moved in with us. She has always been the person I felt I could turn

Mind your language

Mind Your Language | 7 March 2009

The country around Down House in Kent was nothing but ‘a congeries of muddy lanes’ according to Darwin’s eldest daughter Henrietta (1843-1927). I realised, shortly after reading this, that I had never uttered the word congeries and hardly knew how. Recourse to the OED alarmed me. Congeries, it stated, is a word of four syllables,