High life

I’m a one-woman man

Gstaad There’s a fin de saison feeling around here, but the restaurants are still full and the sons of the desert are still moping around. Building is going on non-stop and the cows are down from the mountains, making the village a friendlier and more civilised place. Something of a twilight mood has crept in,

Low life

When the bone pain gets bad, my inner NCO keeps me in check

In Frederic Manning’s classic Great War novel, The Middle Parts of Fortune, the shattered battalion shambles out of the line after battle to parade briefly before being dismissed. Noting a general loss of soldierly comportment as the infantrymen limp into camp, a watching NCO urges: ‘Come on, get hold of it now.’ As my bone

Real life

The death of customer service

The ladies in the bank now wear badges telling you to Be Kind and not do anything that might upset them in any way. Be Kind is in big capital letters on this badge and beneath is a lot of small print explaining the well-known global problem of upset bank employees, which has reached such

Wine Club

Wine Club: five of the finest from Armit Wines

Order today. So, with Mrs Ray packed off to the airport for her sun-soaked sojourn in Italy, training for The Spectator’s Clays, Claret and Cognac Cruise begins in earnest. The clays could still do with work but I’m close to nailing the liquid element of the jaunt. I’ve been helped immensely by Armit Wines and

No sacred cows

I’ve finally been offended by a joke

I went to the O2 on Sunday night to see the comedians Dave Chappelle and Chris Rock. Chappelle, who survived an attempt to cancel him last year, didn’t disappoint, delivering some hilarious, politically incorrect jokes, and Rock was equally seditious, although his set went on for too long. But the rest of the evening was

Spectator Sport

Drama at Lord’s: Stumped is a treat for cricket fans

So farewell to cricket’s The Hundred tournament, or what seemed by the end to be beefy South Africans in ‘Butterkist’ shirts belting sixes over cow corner off some fairly inoffensive county seamers. Does anyone remember a single result? Or really have any loyalty? Fine, have it as a marketing exercise to raise a few quid

Dear Mary


What Soho House has got right: Electric Diner reviewed

Electric Diner is from the Soho House group, which has done terrible things to private clubs, luckless farmhouses, domestic interior design and even its own restaurants. The Ned, its City hotel with ten restaurants, is genuinely insane, like Thorpe Park for people who are scared of roller-coasters; and no restaurant for adults should sell fishfinger

Mind your language

The cereal ambiguity of ‘corn’

‘Wha, wha?’ said my husband in a slack-jawed way, throwing over a copy of the Guardian, as though it was my fault. ‘“Today,” it said, “just three crops – rice, wheat and corn – provide nearly half of the world’s calories.”’ I saw the problem. It was obvious, from a process of elimination, that by


On the Fellowship of Young Poets

for A.J. and N.C.   An Englishman, an Irishman and a Scotsman walk into a bar… cheap joke, how it began one ancient evening on the lash in Leeds. Three likely lads, fresh from writing degrees, thinking they knew it all and next to nowt at once, as if the margins of hope and doubt


Nothing of him that doth fade But doth suffer a sea-change…   Down there the fathom worker Cleans a universe of sand, Whitening bones, blurring wood With weed and merhair strands Our assiduous, unfailing tide Washing the island away And flooding Prospero’s cove. Now all who were shore-born Will leave in their boats. ‘Good sea’