High life

The art of the witty riposte

One hundred or so years ago, a down-in-the-dumps Joseph Roth wrote to Stefan Zweig: ‘The barbarians have taken over.’ Later on, Zweig committed suicide and Roth drank himself to death. They were both talented writers depressed about the state of the world. Reading their correspondence last week I had to laugh. Neither Roth nor Zweig

Low life

Modern capitalism has failed my son

A light was on in the caravan site office so I went over to try and buy a gas canister. Come Easter the little Cornish seaside resort will be heaving. Now a stiff north wind blew in off the sea and it felt like the dregs of winter still. The site office was shut but

Real life

Would my godson survive an afternoon with me?

My friend Emily, who once got an owl stuck to her hand, was bringing her son for a day with the ponies. Like all manic souls, Emily can produce both magic and chaos, and you never know in what proportions. Emily may appear eccentric but like Mel Gibson in Conspiracy Theory she always turns out

Wild life

Hell is an English train journey

Delayed, on Southern Rail Home From the Hill is a 1987 documentary by Molly Dineen about Hilary Hook, an elderly colonel who after a life in Kenya and the Far East retires to a nasty flat in England. Poor old Hilary has never had to prepare his own food and now, in his twilight years,

Wine Club

Wine Club: five to stock up on for Easter

Email your order today. It’s flipping well snowing as I write, but my Glyndebourne tickets have come and my MCC pass has just plopped on to the mat so it must surely be spring. And where a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love, so this old soak’s fancy lightly turns to just

No sacred cows

Spectator Sport

Pep and Klopp, kings of England

It’s a game for the ages all right, City against Liverpool on Sunday as the Premier League moves to its most exciting climax in years: two magnificent managers, two awe-inspiring collections of players. Both teams are so far in front that the rest are nowhere. There’s more to come as they face each other the

Dear Mary


£120 steak that looks like a M&S meal deal: The Maine reviewed

Last week Chris Corbin and Jeremy King lost control of the restaurant group they founded: Corbin & King, which made the Wolseley, the Delaunay and Brasserie Zédel under Piccadilly Circus where, if they were lucky, tourists would tumble as if into a fairy pool. Corbin and King understand that a superb restaurant looks after its

Mind your language

What’s the right way to pronounce ‘gif’?

The man who invented gifs, Stephen Wilhite, has died, aged 74. Controversy survives him – over how to pronounce the thing. A gif was a format that, from 1987, allowed graphics to be shared by otherwise incompatible computers. The name came from the initials of Graphics Interchange Format. That was not decisive, for the word



From reception they followed stringboards upstairs to the photocopying room, through accounts, into the main offices. Miles of white cables   overpowering skirting boards, pinned around door frames. And where they came up short, taped to woodchipped walls or burrowed beneath fitted carpets – those ripples never went back   quite the same. Superhighways of