High life

A meditation on death

Gstaad   I shoulda been a weatherman: no sooner had I announced snow to be a Gstaad rarity than it came down non-stop. But then it rained, so everything’s hunky-dory. Older rich people who don’t ski are relieved that it’s stopped; younger types who do indulge are over the moon that it’s snowed at all.

Low life

Real life

How I fell out of love with the BBC

One of the many technological things I don’t understand is, how come I’m paying to watch television? I know why I used to pay. I used to switch on a box in the corner of the room and marvel at the choice of three quite interesting programmes and something slightly racy on Channel 4. It

No sacred cows

Dear Mary


The Spanish winemakers with a missionary zeal

It is time to begin with an apology, and hope. In the course of these columns, I have already admitted to a deplorable ignorance of Spanish wine, including sherry. The finest sherries are subtle, complex, powerful — and excellent value. The same is increasingly true of other Spanish wines and there again, I am lament-ably

Mind your language

Why we can’t count toast

‘Somebody loves me,’ said my husband, waving a copy of The Spectator above his head as though pursued by wasps. ‘Don’t be silly, darling,’ I said, refusing to feed his appetite for vicarious fame. A kindly reader had written, wondering if he was well, since I hadn’t mentioned him for a couple of weeks. He

The Wiki Man

Why the BBC licence fee makes sense

A consensus seems to be forming that the BBC licence fee is for the chop. In a digital age, the reasoning goes, we should not be forced to subscribe to huge bundles of content, with no choice over what we pay for and what we don’t. This argument, intriguingly, is both true and false at

The turf

The magic of Cheltenham Festival

Every time the Cheltenham Festival looms, I recall a remarkable experience. It was already 25 years since Dawn Run’s recovery from a seemingly impossible position to win the Gold Cup of 1986, becoming the only horse ever to add victory in our greatest steeplechase to a triumph in the Champion Hurdle, when, for my Festival