Mmmm. Got lovely new mini-break brochure: Pride of Britain: Leading Country House Hotels of the British Isles. Marvellous. Going through all the pages one by one imagining Daniel and me being alternately sexual and romantic in all the bedrooms and dining-rooms.Bridget Jones's DiaryLast weekend my husband and I went on a mini-break to Majorca. Two weeks before this we spent a long weekend in Whitby, with friends.
Andrew Gimson says Gerhard Schr
Another summer over and, once again, the question forms in my mind: where not to go on holiday next year? It seems a silly question – for the list, surely, is endless. There are all those places which have simply nothing worth seeing. The homes of light industry and flyovers, with no distinguishing architecture, scenery or climate. The Midwest, and its English equivalent, the East Midlands. The industrial towns of the German plains, the grim squalor that is the urban Third World.
When I return to Kenya, this is the true story I'm going to tell my muckers over a round of welcome home Tuskers. In London, in the fair postcode of W12, I use a web caf
If Australia, as a nation, is negotiating late adolescence, cocksure but fragile, striving to establish its identity, then New Zealand is a child: clear-eyed, blemish-free, with a steady, candid gaze.My introduction to this gigantic adult playground came by way of a promotional video, shown by Air New Zealand on the flight from London to Auckland and starring the country's Prime Minister, gutsy, trouser-clad Helen Clark.
There is rust on the griddle of the barbecue, dust on the shoulder of the Pimm's bottle and must in the air in the summerhouse, where the cushions and the picnic rugs are damp. Each day, dusk limps in earlier and earlier, and it can't be long before the spirits start to go as flat as the paddling pool that has long been packed away. And yet now that the holiday season is over, the best time for a holiday has arrived – particularly if you have already had one, for stolen holidays, like stolen kisses, are sweet.
One of the most amusing broadcast moments of the early 1990s was a radio debate between the painter Patrick Heron and various citizens of St Ives. The subject was the proposal to build a new art gallery in the town. Several angry Cornish voices were to be heard going on about a swimming pool – the alternative project. On the other side, plaintively upholding the cause of Modernist art, were the reedy, patrician tones of the artist (a public-school voice that Heron, a staunch socialist, was very sorry he had).
To the romantic, Malta smells of thyme and fig; to the cynic, tar and goat – but, whatever a traveller's disposition, he can't deny that the country's place in Mediterranean history is unique. Malta's past is bold and bloody. In 1530 the emperor Charles V gave the Knights of St John their home after they had been forced out of Rhodes by Suleiman the Magnificent. The knights used Malta to raid the Ottoman fleets, sending gold and silver back to their protector, and in 1565 Suleiman finally tired of this and set out to destroy the 'Monks of War'; and so began the Great Siege.
They’re playing rap music in the jewellery department at Christie’s South Kensington. In T.M. Lewin, the Jermyn Street shirtmakers, you can dip into a fridge by the cufflinks counter and have a frozen mini-Mars while you are leafing through the chocolate corduroy jackets. But who is left to mourn these things? In the old days, the Young Fogey, the character invented by Alan Watkins on these pages in 1984, would have been in the vanguard of the protesters, shrieking and whinnying away about the desecration of his haunts.
Just after David Hill’s appointment as the new Downing Street press chief, I wrote a profile of him for the Daily Mail. In this article, I revealed that Hill was a superb amateur rock vocalist, who had not only sung in several major venues across London, but had also appeared in the musical Hair.But, even in the face of such revelations, by far the most startling fact about Hill remains his 20 years of service as an aide to Roy Hattersley, the former deputy leader of the Labour party.
According to a survey reported last weekend in the Independent on Sunday, almost all homosexuals are barking mad. I am using the politically correct term ‘barking mad’ so as not to incur the wrath of the mental-health pressure groups, all of which become psychotically incensed and even violent when they read of mad people being described as ‘nutters’ or ‘doolally’ or – an old favourite of mine purloined from the US demotic – ‘crazier than a shithouse rat’.
Leonardo’s ‘Madonna of the Yarnwinder’, stolen the other day from the Duke of Buccleuch, is the painting that changed my view of civilisation. I know it quite well, because one of my sisters-in-law used to live just up the road from Drumlanrig Castle in Dumfriesshire, where it hung until it was pinched. Whenever I stayed with her and wanted to escape from the children, I would slope off to the castle to take the guided tour.
ParisWithin the next few months, Jacques Chirac’s illegitimate son will turn 18 and the French press will face a dilemma. Do they celebrate his majority on the front page of Paris Match? Or do they keep it as hush-hush as they have in the past out of courtesy, respect for a statesman’s private life and fear? I talk of Chirac’s illegitimate son as if he were a fact, but all I have to go on is ever more brazen Parisian gossip which says that we are in 1994 all over again, counting down to when Paris Match put Mazarine Pingeot on its front cover and the world found out that Fran’ois Mitterrand had a 19-year-old daughter who lived with his long-standing mistress in a government flat on the Left Bank.
For all the millions of words written about al-Qa’eda since the 9/11 attacks two years ago, one phenomenon is consistently overlooked – the role of the Bosnian war in transforming the mujahedin of the 1980s into the roving Islamic terrorists of today.Many writers and reporters have traced al-Qa’eda and other terror groups’ origins back to the Afghan war of 1979