High life

High life | 10 January 2019

Gstaad The funny thing is that I was at school with a man called Ted Widmer, and I recently read that one Ted Widmer is a ‘distinguished lecturer’ at a New York university and a senior fellow at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs. The Ted I knew was anything but ethical and

Low life

Low life | 10 January 2019

We were eight for dinner on New Year’s Eve: four men and four women with a combined age, I would guess, of around 500. A quarter of the company — two of the men — had been officially diagnosed as suffering from one form or another of dementia. We whose brains still neatly fitted the

Real life

Real life | 10 January 2019

Oh, I suppose I might as well give it a whirl, I thought, as the recorded voice began its dirge: ‘If you are calling to cancel your BT service, please press one…’ It would have been more accurate to say: ‘If you never use your landline and have only now, while doing your New Year

Wild life

Wild life | 10 January 2019

Kampala I am terrified of being with former death-row prisoner Susan Kigula. This is because she qualified for her driving licence only quite recently, after 16 years in Luzira maximum security prison, and she drives like a maniac on Uganda’s roads. From behind the wheel Susan tells me she was sentenced to death for murdering

Wine Club

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the left’s Sarah Palin

When the media falls in love, it falls hard. Its latest crush is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat congressgirl from New York. With Obama gone, she’s their new idol and how they gasp every time she flutters her Bambi eyes from behind those Deirdre Barlow-grade glasses. Brits find the deference US journalists show their president unseemly —

What Corbyn’s far left has in common with Trump and the Brexit right

Even though Jeremy Corbyn and the men and women who support him are often shabby and occasionally reactionary figures, the rarest criticism you hear of them is criticism from the left. Political commentary in Britain runs like water through pipes. Conventional opinion holds that if you are left wing, you support the Labour leadership, and

No sacred cows

Save the male

For the first time in its history, the American Psychological Association (APA) has issued guidelines for mental health professionals working with men and boys. That may not sound like a momentous event, but the APA is a powerful body in the US. It has 117,500 members, including the vast majority of practising psychologists, and an

Spectator Sport

If ever a man deserved his gong it’s Sir Chef

Here’s a date for the diary: if you’re in south London on 11 April, head for the Oval. It’s going to be nippy for sure, certainly a four-sweater day, and it might even be snowing, but you can count on the free coffee Surrey generously lays on for members, not forgetting a few pastries as

Dear Mary

Your problems solved | 10 January 2019

Q. What is the current etiquette regarding chasing an opinion from a publisher to whom, by agreement and via a shared acquaintance, I submitted a manuscript six weeks ago? Other than acknowledgement of receipt and an expression of enthusiasm at the prospect of reading it, I have heard nothing further from her. I am aware


Bob, booths and buttons

In January, you could go to Bob Bob Ricard in Soho. I do not know why it is called Bob Bob Ricard; and I do not really care. I am currently reviewing cars for another magazine and cars’ names make restaurants’ names sound reasonable. Perhaps Bob Bob Ricard is always slightly drunk and needs to

Mind your language


Someone has been putting about reports that Sajid Javid, the Home Secretary, refers to himself in the third person as ‘the Sajid’ or ‘the Saj’. This habit has a long history. Xenophon entered his own Anabasis 2,400 years ago with the words: ‘There was in that host a certain man, an Athenian, Xenophon.’ Caesar played