High life

High Life | 10 October 2009

New York They founded this place 400 years ago this year among the Indians in the marshes, and no one’s looked back since. Some of the Dutch descendants are still around but you wouldn’t know it by reading the gossip columns or celebrity blogs. This is immigrant paradise, and the less European one looks and

Low life

Low Life | 10 October 2009

As I was getting changed, a naked figure emerged from the clouds of steam in the showers. The upper half was the Incredible Hulk, the lower half Charles Haughtry. I recognised the face. It was a lad I always used to see working out in the other gym. Usually, we’d be the only ones in

Real life

Real Life | 10 October 2009

Hotels frighten me. I can only approach them armed with industrial-strength earplugs, a box of teabags, a jar of Marmite, an orthopaedic pillow, a towelling robe and slippers that fit, a large bag of apples, some bottles of mineral water, a scented candle and a DVD boxset of Columbo. ‘What the hell have you got

More from life

The Turf | 10 October 2009

For followers of every sport there are trigger words, often in pairs, which immediately bring great moments to life. ‘The Thriller in Manila’, Muhammad Ali’s third fight against Joe Frazier, probably does it for boxing. Any bracketing of ‘Coe and Ovett’ brings back famous finishes for athletics fans. No true cricket supporter can hear mention

Status Anxiety | 10 October 2009

Don’t be misled by their Bullingdon days: Boris and Dave are masters of re-invention Last night, More4 broadcast a 90-minute drama-doc called When Boris Met Dave that I helped to make. It documents their Eton and Oxford years and I hope they saw it — or, at least, recorded it on Sky Plus — because the impression

Dear Mary

Dear Mary | 10 October 2009

Q. We are in the habit of entertaining guests from overseas, including a countess, at a bush camp in one of the excellent KwaZulu Natal game reserves. Usually we go, in a group of up to eight, on game walks, which bring us up close to animals including rhinos. From time to time, when a

Mind your language

Mind Your Language | 10 October 2009

I’ve been reading a most interesting book. I’ve been reading a most interesting book. It’s all about the books Gladstone read, the way he read them and what he did with the 30,000 books he collected in his long life. Most of the book is written engagingly enough. ‘Until the late 19th century, most books

The Wiki Man

The Wiki Man | 10 October 2009

Every time I am forced to listen to whingefests such as You and Yours, I wonder if it’s time to invent the mirror image of a consumer affairs programme — where Britain’s largest businesses get to expose the behaviour of their worst customers. Every time I am forced to listen to whingefests such as You