High life

High life | 7 July 2016

I am trying to decide with some friends which is worse, English weather or English football. The former is improving as I write, but the latter’s problems are terminal. There are too many ‘directors of development’ and other jargon-packed non-jobs that interfere with the very simple process of developing football. Send them all to Iceland,

Low life

Low life | 7 July 2016

I walked into the bar and there was Trev standing in front of a giant screen showing Germany v. Italy and chatting up two overawed teenage girls with his usual aplomb and startling frankness. Pleased to see me after all this time, he dismissed them with a kind word and we went to the bar

Real life

Real life | 7 July 2016

‘Of course, there will be no air quality now,’ said a friend, shaking her head over my support for Brexit. ‘You what?’ ‘Air quality,’ she said. ‘Or green belt. Or Sites of Special Scientific Interest, preserving the countryside and wildlife… All those really good EU regulations have all gone now.’ ‘What on earth are you

More from life

Long life | 7 July 2016

Amid the bloodshed and chaos that followed David Cameron’s resignation as prime minister, Theresa May earned praise for seeking to convey calm and steadiness. In the speech with which she launched her bid to succeed him, she said: ‘I know I’m not a showy politician …I don’t often wear my heart on my sleeve. I

Six of the best | 7 July 2016

I love Eclipse Day at Sandown, the first occasion in the year when the classy three-year-olds start taking on their elders. Over the years it has given us some great contests and added lustre to the careers of some great horses. In 1986 Dancing Brave confirmed in the Sandown feature how unlucky he had been

The art of the quit

Brits don’t quit,’ said David Cameron two weeks ago, to which the obvious rejoinder is: ‘Oh but they do!’ The list of quitters since the referendum seems to grow every day, the latest being Nigel -Farage. Everyone made the same joke when they heard he had resigned — ‘How long for?’ — but when I

Spectator Sport

Wimbledon’s ultimate one-up man

What a well-behaved Wimbledon. Apart from a bit of racket-smashing (most of the ladies), low-level swearing (Nick Kyrgios), tantrums (Kyrgios), and egregious non-trying (Kyrgios again, of course) it has all gone pretty-smoothly. So whatever happened to top-class gamesmanship? The master of this, you may be surprised to learn, was the greatest British player of all,

Dear Mary

Dear Mary | 7 July 2016

Q. My son goes into his final year at school this September and I would like him to be able to duck out of next summer’s leavers’ bonding trip. This seems to have become a compulsory fixture despite the school abdicating all responsibility for planning it to the inexperienced upper-sixth-formers. Some of this year’s leavers


A touch of class | 7 July 2016

Cliveden is a good review for a divided country and I have waited, not too long, for it to feel resonant for Spectator readers; it aches with class-consciousness. It has food pens dependent on your status — whether you are eating in the National Trust grounds, or the swanky (I love this word; it’s so

Mind your language

Baby with the bathwater

Bustle, an online newspaper ‘for and by women’, has published ‘six common phrases you didn’t know were sexist (that you’ll now want to ban from your vocabulary)’. One of them is ‘Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater’. By chance this phrase was used by Sir Ernest Gowers, the enemy of officialese and cliché,