High life

High life | 11 January 2018

Gstaad  What I miss most up here in the Alps are the literary lunches conducted on the fly with writers like Bill Buckley, Alistair Horne, Natacha Stewart, occasionally Dmitri Nabokov and, yes, movie star and memoirist par excellence David Niven. This was back in the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s, during the winter months

Low life

Low life | 11 January 2018

By New Year’s Day I’d had enough of festivities. Instead of getting out of bed, I turned over, put my face to the wall and refused all offers of food, drink and conversation. I kept this up throughout the day and into the evening, when I had to get up to go to the toilet.

Real life

Real life | 11 January 2018

‘Not being rude, but I don’t think you should do any DIY,’ said the gamekeeper. He had just witnessed me make chicken soup by liquidising a boiled chicken carcass then pressing all the wrong buttons on the liquidiser, so detaching the bottom of the jug from the jug rather than releasing the jug from the

Wild life

Wild life | 11 January 2018

Kenya  First comes a distant hum, rising in volume until I hear it coming straight at me like Niki Lauda behind the wheel of his Ferrari. The blue sky darkens. I duck as swarming bees zoom overhead, trailing their queen. They are gone again in a second, coiling off in a shadowy murmuration across the

No sacred cows

Screen-addicted kids? There’s an app for that

Over Christmas, Caroline and I finally snapped about the amount of time our children were spending on their screens. If they weren’t watching Logan Paul vlogs on YouTube, they were on Snapchat or playing video games. I couldn’t get them to read anything — not even one of the wonderful How to Train Your Dragon

Spectator Sport

Can the long game survive?

So will the sight of poor Joe Root at Sydney, pale as a ghost and barely able to stand, heroically facing 90mph bowling in a totally doomed cause, all the while racked with a tummy bug, mark the beginning of a rethink for traditional long-form cricket? Make no mistake, like millions I love the Ashes,

Dear Mary

Dear Mary | 11 January 2018

Q. Should the lady or the gentleman have the banquette in a restaurant? I’ve been brought up to believe that the lady has the banquette for her more delicate bottom — and for her handbag. She has the view of the room; the gentleman has only eyes for her. My fiancé says that a modern couple


Tea in the hallowed grounds

As dreams of winning the Ashes became, well, the only word is ash, for 4-0 is not a number even I would minimise, there is a place — a restaurant actually — where you can hold the Ashes in your hands. Calm down. What, as I imagine myself telling Chris Grayling all the time, would

Mind your language

Bad academic style

Why do so many academics write so badly? Those who make the study of language their life’s work are as bad as any. I saw two books about English in the 18th century reviewed in the TLS and thought I might buy them, until I read quotations from them that the reviewer had chosen, not by