No life

Lloyd Evans

Next time, I’m swimming to Calais

Friends in Calais invited me to their baby’s birthday party. He’s a year old. They suggested an overnight stay and I planned to reach France by about mid-afternoon and have a stroll, visit the sights, buy a bit of tat for the nipper and a litre of plonk for the proud parents. Clouds of sweet

Real life

Drama on the London Underground

The girl lay slumped against a wall in front of me and someone ran to push the emergency button. I was nearly at the bottom of the Jubilee line escalator when I came across this scene. I found it shocking, but then I’m not used to drama these days. An eventful day in West Cork

More from life

How to make perfect scones

I am evangelical about scones as a gateway bake – they are the perfect entry point for the nervous baker. They don’t require any nonsense. Rubbing the butter and flour together by hand and stamping the dough out is straightforward; and as long as a scone is risen and golden-topped after baking, then you’re fine.

No sacred cows

What Labour could learn from Australia and New Zealand

I’m just coming to the end of a four-week speaking tour Down Under and have spotted some worrying signs of what our new government might have in store for us, particularly on the free speech front. During its six years in power, the Labour party in New Zealand tried to criminalise ‘hate speech’ against minority

Spectator Sport

Murray shouldn’t have relied on injury-prone Raducanu

Talk about raging against the dying of the light: Andy Murray and President Biden both. Murray because he is no longer as quick on his feet and Joe Biden because he’s no longer, well, quick. At all. Biden has said he will only step down if the Lord Almighty tells him to, and ethereal intervention

Dear Mary

Dear Mary: is it rude to listen to sport at a wedding?

Q. We live in the countryside, where the door is always open. Last week when it was sunny we had a drinks party in the garden. Despite our leaving a notice on the front door saying ‘In the garden’, most people rang the doorbell (waking up our grandchild and making the dogs bark) and waited


48 hours of food in Andalusia

In Spain, you can eat all day – and we did. Earlier in the summer, I spent two days in Andalusia, and most of the 48 hours were taken up by mealtimes. A breakfast of the sweet porridge poleá started the day, then ham-tasting for a mid-morning snack, followed by a two-hour lunch. Spanish law

Mind your language

Alan Partridge on mental health

Lord Peter Wimsey said to the nurse: ‘Now about the old lady herself. I gather she was a little queer towards the end – a bit mental, I think you people call it?’ This is in Unnatural Death by Dorothy L. Sayers, from 1927. The 1920s were the heyday of mental, which occurred then about



If I were called in to construct a religion relief would figure prominently. Best of all the positive emotions: warmer than contentment, deeper than joy, intenser than ecstasy. Congregants would go to church in wincingly tight shoes which they could slip off once seated. The building would have toilets  but their use would be forbidden 

Café Roma

How many years since we ate here – nine, ten? We called it the smoky café before the ban, took the kids upstairs for pasta each time they stayed with us. Now they wake inside their lives, miles away, and we (who feared this place had shut) share pizza on our return: olives dotted over

The turf

Politicians have to be gamblers

Politicians pretty well have to be gamblers. You give up a promising career in, say, dentistry, teaching or accountancy for a world in which all but a fortunate few are almost bound to end in tears. No matter how diligent and attentive a constituency MP you may be, if the national mood swings against your