High life

High life | 10 March 2012

Back in 1951, briefly home from boarding school, I went to a bar with a phony draft card, ordered a beer and watched Rocky Marciano knock out my idol Joe Louis through the ropes and out of boxing for ever. Joe was old — 35 or maybe 37 and was trying for a comeback as

Low life

Low life | 10 March 2012

My brother, a big, tough, rugby-playing, judo-grappling, incorruptible police sergeant, was whimpering down the phone. His back had gone again, he said, this time completely. He was lying on his side on his bedroom floor, he said, the only place and position which afforded him the slightest relief. ‘Ah! Oh! Ee!’ he said. I’d never

Real life

Real life | 10 March 2012

Just three months into our relationship, the builder boyfriend overwhelmed me with some serious romance. He took me to B&Q for new kitchen units. I was breathless with excitement as we drove to New Malden in his pick-up truck. That’s right. My new boyfriend is so butch he has a Mitsubishi L200. Be still my

More from life

Status Anxiety | 10 March 2012

Last week, the West London Free School went out with offers to parents who’ve applied for places in September and it’s not an exaggeration to say my phone’s been ringing ever since. The first category of callers are disappointed parents who haven’t been offered places. We had nine applications for every place this year, making

Long life | 10 March 2012

To say that you live in south Northamptonshire doesn’t usually inspire much envy. Not many people dream of living between Northampton and Milton Keynes. But from where I’m sitting at my kitchen table I have a peaceful view over the wide and shallow valley of the river Tove, dominated on the horizon by the handsome

Spectator Sport

Spectator Sport: Heroic failures

Good old Pearcey, I say. England’s excitable stand-in manager refreshingly ruled himself out of the full-time job after his back-of-a-fag-packet team just lost out to Holland last week, because, he said, he wasn’t good enough. His actual words were, ‘I don’t think I have the experience for the job… the full-time manager of England at

Dear Mary

Dear Mary | 10 March 2012

Q. At a recent social event my wife and I were lucky enough to be guests of a dear friend who had also asked some dozen others. We started the evening as a party in a bar and, as 7.15 p.m. approached and we got ready to leave, I noticed that none of our party,


Food: Dinner drama

Novikov is an immense two-storey restaurant in deepest Mayfair. It serves Asian on the ground floor and Italian in the vaults. This is not an austerity restaurant, or anything near; it is bigger than a Harvester and full of the glow of fortified money. There are actually people smoking outside in happy clumps. For some

Mind your language


Who is to say what marriage should mean? Not dictionaries, for they record what words do mean, not what they should. Lexicographers are like lepidopterists, catching and describing species, not pig-farmers, breeding and improving them. Last week Lynne Featherstone, the equalities minister asked: ‘Who owns marriage?’ She answered: ‘It is owned by the people,’ and