High life

The accidental wit and wisdom of Samuel Goldwyn

For some of you younger readers the name Schmuel Gelbfisz will not ring a bell. Yet back in the Thirties Schmuel Gelbfisz’s identity was a dinner-party quiz question, and the one who guessed correctly would receive a kiss from Mary Pickford — America’s sweetheart — if he happened to be a man, or an expensive

Low life

My love for Sharon was like a mental illness

As Sharon stooped to pour boiling water from the kettle into two mugs, I studied her back and wondered what, if anything, remained in me of the love I once had for her. Was there a residue somewhere? Or a stain? I pictured her back as it had been a dozen years earlier, tanned by

Real life

Herbal remedies for horses? I’m half tempted to try them myself…

You know you’ve been irreversibly sucked into the ninth circle of horse-owning hell when you find yourself perusing an equine supplement catalogue. If you ask me, these tomes should have a disclaimer on the front saying, ‘Abandon all hope, ye pony-lovers who enter here.’ The equine supplement industry is a vast money-burning pit into which

More from life

Dear Mary

Dear Mary: How can I spike a gossip-pedlar’s guns?

Q. On arrival at a top level dinner, I was surprised to see at the table a woman who, I have reason to suspect, sells gossip as a sideline. However, clearly no one else suspected her and, assuming it was Chatham House rules, everyone was talking freely. When one man began to regale the table


A military funeral for a heroic vintage

Alas, the ’63 ports are beginning to fade. I came to that conclusion the last time I tasted a Warre’s, and the other night I was at the drinking of a Graham’s, an exemplar of that magnificent year. It was still delicious, and from the summit of a mountain there is a long descent. But

Mind your language

What the French now mean when they say ‘bugger’

The French for tête-à-tête is one-to-one now, according to a new survey of English invaders by Alexandre des Isnards. Actually, only half of the 400 neologisms that M. Isnards has collected for his Dictionnaire du Nouveau Français (Allary Editions) are English, though that’s a high enough level. It seems to me that French and English

The Wiki Man

Why I no longer want to live in America

A few years ago I would have quite liked to live in America. I’m not sure now. For one thing, most of the things perfected by Americans (convenience, entertainment, technology, a very small bottle of Tabasco to accompany your breakfast) very soon make their way over here. On the other hand, the things Europeans do