High life

High life | 7 April 2012

Dr David Starkey is a great man, a Tudor historian, and one of the few academics who tells it like it is. Openly gay, he has no time for prancing queens and other such clown minorities trying to steal a bigger slice of the freebie pie. After last summer’s riots he had the courage to

Low life

Low life | 7 April 2012

I was sunbathing in a deckchair outside my boy and his partner’s house. They don’t have a back garden, but they have a six-feet square unfenced plot of grass and mud between their front door, the wheelie bins and the road, and that’s where they stand and smoke and occasionally sit and socialise. That side

Real life

Real life | 7 April 2012

Predictably enough, Aviva ruined Panda purchase day for me. Never mind that it’s their fault I’m having to buy a car the size of a Tonka toy with a hairdryer for an engine. I can’t afford the Volvo any more, of course, because I’ve got the outstanding ‘injury’ claim by the Slobs against me. That

More from life

Status Anxiety: Undesirable guests

One of the drawbacks of having four children is that your friends never invite you to stay. I’d like to believe it’s because they don’t have enough room, but even those friends with large houses are remarkably tight-lipped come holiday time. Actually, that isn’t strictly true. We have been invited to stay by a few

Long life | 7 April 2012

The most common lie you hear on the telephone is the one in which a recorded voice says, ‘Your call is important to us.’ Do not be fooled. Your call is not important to anyone, except to the extent that it warns an organisation that you would like to talk to one of its employees.

Spectator Sport

Spectator Sport: Ethical football

Funny business, footballers and morality. One moment they’re all taking part in mawkish self-congratulatory breast-beating, first over Gary Speed, now over poor Fabrice Muamba. The next, it’s back to childishness and sharp practice. Here’s Balotelli and Kolarov bickering over a free kick; there are Liverpool’s Carroll diving and swearing at his bench and Reina shaping

Dear Mary

Dear Mary | 7 April 2012

Q. A friend had a glamorous book launch to which I was not invited but which was all over the papers. Since I regularly review books, this exclusion seems pointed. The implication is that I am no longer considered glamorous myself and she would not wish to be conflated with me in any review. What


Food: Flesh and blood

Poor Hawksmoor. So obviously the genius of English Baroque, and yet he always comes last in the histories, behind flashy Vanbrugh (duh) and dull Wren (meh). It was probably a class thing — what isn’t? — because Hawksmoor was from Nottingham, and a clerk. So it feels good to walk into a chophouse bearing his

Mind your language


Francis Maude was judged to have let the side down by uttering the words ‘kitchen supper’. It was almost as bad, apparently, as having said ‘nursery tea’ — not the language of the people. Yet people do eat supper, and may eat it in the kitchen, not always on their laps in front of the