High life

High life | 5 November 2015

I have finally moved into my new flat, a jewel of a place in a pre-first world war Park Avenue building. The finishing touches won’t be made until Christmas 2016, as work is only permitted during the two summer months. That is the way it should be. The past three years have been agony for

Low life

Low life | 5 November 2015

She was dying for a mad night out, she said, so where was I going to take her? I know, I said. If they’re playing tonight, we’ll go and see Society Rocks, the most electrifying covers band I know. Their Facebook page said they were playing in Exmouth, 40 miles away. Society Rocks are a

Real life

Real life | 5 November 2015

A letter has arrived summoning me to parents’ evening to discuss Cydney’s progress. Yes, I am aware that Cydney is a dog. But it seems that my vet is not aware. Or if he is, he is doing a good impression of pretending she is entitled to the same checks and balances the state affords

More from life

Long life | 5 November 2015

The last time I was in New Orleans was during the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico when the city was still also reeling from the effects of Hurricane Katrina. Now it seems to have recovered from these traumas. The restaurants are packed and the picturesque French Quarter, the old heart of the

Nature beats nurture nearly every time

I’ve been doing some thinking recently about the findings of behavioural geneticists and their implications for education policy. For instance, a study of more than 10,000 twins found that GCSE results are nearly 60 per cent heritable. (This research, by Robert Plomin, was first revealed in The Spectator.) So genetic differences between children account for

Dear Mary


We celebrated a birth with a wine that will last decades

Good Saturday, 2015, stepping westward. Autumn sunshine: autumn leaves, almost comparable to New England: pumpkins everywhere, very New England. We were in Sherborne, a town famous for its abbey and castle, but well worth a proper Pevsner-guided exploration. There were obvious questions. When and how did the pumpkin take over from the turnip, ‘trick or

Mind your language

How we ended up ‘cisgender’

‘That’s not how you spell “system”,’ said my husband triumphantly, pointing with his whisky glass at a placard inveighing against the ‘Cistem’, held up by a transgender protester on television. ‘No, darling,’ I said, not even assuming a patient tone. ‘It’s a play on words.’ Among people who like using the word gender outside its


En Retrait

Since I decided to accept this quiet corner of the garden as my undeserved Elysium and to make the birdsong and the flowers stand for the rightness of everything, I find I have no need to show how many pieces the world is in, how better and worse it always is; where motivated reason and

The Wiki Man