High life

The Middle East for dummies

Gstaad   The French have a saying: ‘Il n’y a rien de plus bête que le sourire du gagnant.’ In other words, gloating is for dummies. Hence I won’t be doing it, despite the drubbing handed to the Bercows of this world by so-called common folk. Mind you, at a lunch in a gentlemen’s club

Low life

The death of my desert-island fantasy

I was on the back seat of a golf buggy being driven down to the marina from my beachside villa through grossly exotic tropical gardens. From the many seaside and sporting activities the resort had to offer, I had opted this morning for the ‘island adventure’. I would be whisked away by speedboat and deposited

Real life

How my new pony swept me off my feet – literally

‘This is the one I was thinking of for you,’ said the lady I might feasibly call my mother-in-law, in spirit at least. We were standing in her stable yard in a dingley dell corner of the south of England which is frozen in time. After driving down a winding track between well-tended paddocks, we

More from life

The battle for the future of Flat racing

The master plan in acquiring our flatcoat retriever puppy Damson was that as folk no longer with full-time jobs we would invest our time in producing a perfectly trained dog. On New Year’s Day the growing gap between intention and reality was acknowledged. Damson is affectionate, fun and beautiful — frequently admired by passing strangers.

No sacred cows

I’ve found the perfect family film (eventually)

As a member of Bafta, I get sent about 75 ‘screeners’ during the awards season, which is always a treat at the end of the year. I was particularly excited about it this time because of the makeshift home cinema I’ve set up in our playroom. I had fantasies of sitting in there with Caroline

Dear Mary


My recipe to cure a hangover

Journalists exaggerate, often reaching for superlatives to chronicle mildly interesting events. Even so, there are times when it is necessary to become hyperbolic. 2019 was an extraordinary year. As Chou En-lai might have said, it is too early to assess its significance. We will be doing that for at least the next 20 years. Indeed,

Mind your language

What is a ‘tergiversation’?

Last year, someone at US dictionary Merriam-Webster noticed that lots of people were looking up the word tergiversation online. It was because Washington Post columnist George Will had used it in a piece about the US senator Lindsey Graham. ‘During the government shutdown,’ he had written, ‘Graham’s tergiversations — sorry, this is the precise word

The Wiki Man