High life

Being blind for 48 hours concentrates the mind

New York Life is definitely beautiful, as long as one can see, that is, which for two miserable days last week I couldn’t. Having had a glaucoma operation two months ago, I needed to use drops for a while but didn’t pay attention — too many girls in their summer dresses, and things like that

Low life

Getting deliberately and totally drunk in Watchet

Next morning, Sunday, up early. I must have been the only person at the Butlins music festival minus a hangover. Day three, and I was yet to hear a live musical note or get myself an altered consciousness. I walked into town along the promenade feeling ever so noble. Perhaps I might go to church,

Real life

Winning match at Stamford Bridge

‘We hate Tottenham!’ If they had shouted it once they had shouted it 100 times. I wasn’t sure why, as we were watching Chelsea v. Basel. But I knew enough about a girl’s place at a football match not to turn to my male companion and ask what would no doubt turn out to be

More from life

Godolphin drug affair

Working partnerships don’t always bring the results expected. I heard lately of a 12-year-old girl encouraged to spend a day on work experience with a relative in the building trade. After a day sorting correspondence, tidying files and making cups of tea on demand, young Emily returned home with a crisp ten pound note. Her

Sorry, A.A. Gill, but good English really does matter

Last week saw the launch of the Bad Grammar Awards, an annual contest in which prizes are handed out for poor English. Actually, ‘prizes’ is probably the wrong word since no one wants to win them. No one, that is, apart from A.A. Gill. He entered himself and submitted a badly written email that he’d

Dear Mary

Dear Mary: Why didn’t he kiss me?

Q. My literary agent has failed to return my emails and phone calls and it has been six weeks since we last talked. I don’t want to appear desperate but all I think about each day is — is my book going to be published, or not? Any suggestions? — Name and address withheld A.


The Spanish understand the pig and the sea

Spain: an easy country to enjoy; very hard, even for Spaniards, to understand. I remember a dinner party, sitting next to a girl who seemed to want to talk about what had been on television the previous night. She was pretty enough, but I feared that I was in for a long evening and a

Mind your language


In the days when we had bottles of milk delivered, some tits discovered how to peck through the foil tops and consume the cream beneath. Suddenly all the tits were at it. This illustrated what the alternative scientist Rupert Sheldrake called morphic resonance. Something similar has happened over the past days with the phrase game-changing.


War Stories

The mental battle over Sunday roast: mum, my brother and myself trying our best to look interested, so he wouldn’t be wounded.

The Wiki Man

The Hitler guide to rigging a referendum

In 1964 Harold Wilson was so afraid that a scheduled election-night broadcast of Steptoe & Son would cost him at least a dozen marginal seats that he successfully pressured the director-general of the BBC to postpone it. There are plenty of ways to manipulate an election, short of stuffing a ballot box. Another example is