High life

Remembering one of the last great Americans

It takes a very good writer to produce prose that provokes an emotional response in a reader, even when it deals with events long past with which he or she has no connection. It also takes a good writer to subtly tip off the reader about a change in the character of the American people,

Low life

My best Duke of Edinburgh salute for my oncologist

In the waiting room I thought about the Duke of Edinburgh. In particular, I pictured him saluting the cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday. In 1915 Colonel Maud’huy told his assembled French soldiery: ‘Many men salute correctly, very rare are those who salute beautifully… One could say that the salute is the hallmark of education.’ Maud’hay was

Real life

Wild life

Why I’m investing in sheep

Laikipia In the past I had a low opinion of sheep. During my first forays into farming I saw them as creatures hell-bent on dying, with lung diseases, rotten feet or nasal maggots. Their legs snapped in ant-bear holes and hyenas tore them to pieces. To stem tides of oviform death we dipped, injected, dewormed

Wine Club

Wine Club: a selection of beauts from the lands Down Under

Crikey, I worked up quite a sweat putting this one together. But you know me, always the team player. After selflessly draining dozens of bottles on your behalf, I finally cracked it with this bumper Antipodean selection showcasing two countries, seven regions/producers and ten different varieties/blends. Don’t say I don’t try. We in the UK

No sacred cows

The facts about race and education

Judging from the reaction to last week’s Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities report, you’d think it had been written by a group of white supremacists who deliberately falsified the evidence about the prevalence of racism in contemporary Britain. Labour MP Clive Lewis tweeted a picture of the Ku Klux Klan alongside the hashtag #RaceReport,

Dear Mary


Drowning the sorrows of Scotland’s virulent nationalism

There is a more depressing subject than the lockdown. The evening began with a bottle of 18-year-old Glenmorangie. It was subtle and relatively gentle, but also powerful. Alas, this true flower of Scotland lured our talk towards disaster. We started discussing contemporary Scottish politics. Instantly, we were transported to Macbeth: ‘Alas, poor country, almost afraid

Mind your language

The uncomfortable truth about ‘shonky’

A reader sent in a television preview from the Daily Star for Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds in which ‘Brad Pitt leads a squad of Jewish-American soldiers on a Nazi killing spree’. The film, it added, is ‘not as funny as ’Allo ’Allo! but Pitt raises laughs out of his shonky language skills’. The reader was shocked



First you have to give your name.Only when Callum finds it on his listwill he open the door and let you in. They have emptied the waiting roomof all but half-a-dozen chairs.We take it in turns. Each of us is called. We are all of an age, some with sticksmost grey-haired. One by onewe leave

To be a dog —

To gambol and to sometimeslollop through the meadow,head, a yo-yo, beech-green eyes. To be a dog — to be a German Shepherd dog sniffing einfach, einfach, in between botanic explorations. Or a Vizsla — chieftain of the hunting arts, Hungarian and fed on chops, oroh to be a spaniel, simply that and snuffle pungent mushrooms

The Wiki Man

America isn’t speaking our language

I haven’t yet read the report published by the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities. But, looking at the recommendations, I think there is one missing detail. We also need some loose agreement on terminology attuned to the conditions of British English as distinct from American English. Let me explain. I would not dare to