High life

High life | 7 January 2016

OK sports fans, what do Dame Vivien Duffield and Evelyn Waugh have in common? The answer is absolutely nothing, so why start 2016 with such a dumb question? Waugh was short and round and so is Vivien, but apart from weight and height there are no similarities. So why ask? Easy. I was reading about

Low life

Low life | 7 January 2016

The new year was two hours young. My boy and I were side by side on a row of three fixed plastic seats in the corridor of the accident and emergency ward. The both of us had come directly from our respective New Year’s Eve festivities, as had most, if not all, of the patients

Real life

Real life | 7 January 2016

‘Start at the back and try to pass as many horses as you can,’ said the trainer, as we stepped on to the all-weather track at Lingfield. It was only a practice gallop but I couldn’t have been more excited if I’d been lining up for the Gold Cup. Darcy had been loaded on to

More from life

North-south divide

The well-bred Sea Pigeon, who had finished seventh in the Derby when trained at Beckhampton by Jeremy Tree, was later bought by the wine and spirits importer Pat Muldoon to go into training over hurdles with Gordon W. Richards in Penrith. The story goes that on his first foray out of his new northern yard,

Long life | 7 January 2016

This is an uplifting story of survival with which to usher in the New Year. At Stoke Park, my home in Northamptonshire, I went the other day into the West Pavilion, one of two 17th-century buildings that were once connected by colonnades to a country house that burned down in 1896. It is one large

The left’s war on science

How much longer can the liberal left survive in the face of growing scientific evidence that many of its core beliefs are false? I’m thinking in particular of the conviction that all human beings are born with the same capacities, particularly the capacity for good, and that all mankind’s sins can be laid at the

Spectator Sport

Add Ben Stokes to the world’s greatest batsmen

On Sunday morning a friend texted: ‘You watching the big bash, or the domestic stuff down in Australia?’ On one channel, you could be in Cape Town as Ben Stokes slaughtered the bowling attack of the world’s No. 1 side; one click and you were in Brisbane at the Gabba to see the Heat play the

Dear Mary

Your problems solved | 7 January 2016

Q. Although I have met most of the fellow occupants of my building at residents’ meetings, we don’t socialise. However our newest neighbour, a Canadian, has now emailed all the other women in the building offering to open up her own flat for a bonding evening of drinks and nibbles and where we would watch


That sinking feeling | 7 January 2016

The Feng Shang Princess is a floating Chinese restaurant on the Regent’s Canal in north London, which flows from Little Venice to the Guardian to Limehouse, and in which they quite often find corpses in shopping trolleys and vice versa. I do not know if the restaurant moves, and could theoretically travel to Paddington. I

Mind your language

Chattering classes

When the much missed Frank Johnson (1943–2006), once editor of The Spectator, wrote in 1980 that ‘the peculiar need for something to be frightened about only seems to affect those of us who are part of the chattering classes’, I think that ‘those of us’ meant himself, and me and you, dear reader. It is


Abide with Me

Was our first date really a boxer’s funeral? You in pitch, me in black—all in all a noirish affair, how we felt so at home with those lump-faced men, the mourners wrapped in silk and onyx watches, their Stygian raincoats soaked. And did their tears heave a river, a torrent, down Amsterdam as the organ