Low life

Low life | 8 April 2006

I was in the gents at the Black Lion in Plaistow, east London, standing at one of the two urinals, when it hit me. I was thinking about my Mum. She hasn’t been well. First it was a chest infection, then the violence of the coughing fits put her back out, rendering her out of

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Snakes and ladders

You will know by now whether Arsenal in Italy on Wednesday carried on from their racily appealing first-leg home victory over Juventus and are now in the semi-finals of the European Champions Cup. Whatever, last week’s emphatic, even euphoric, Highbury show remains one to bottle up and savour as a memento of north London’s old

Dear Mary… | 8 April 2006

Q. We have friends who regularly invite us to dinner. Because I know that they have little appreciation of fine wine, we generally and generously like to bring a bottle of quality wine as a gift, to complement both the meal and the company. However, it is rarely opened and I and indeed others who

Mind your language

Mind your language | 8 April 2006

I’m stuck in a fine old barney with Prof Michael McCarthy, the co-author of the new Cambridge Grammar of English. This grammar calmly notes that like can be used to introduce direct speech, instead of said, as in ‘I was like, “Wow!” He was like, “Come off it”.’ I can’t abide this construction, which is