High life

America has turned into a bad joke

Gstaad     Rumours about the virus are flying around this village. First there was talk of a hotel being temporarily quarantined, then a shindig given by a fat social climber where one of the guests was said to be infected. So far these seem to have been false alarms but still the fat old

Low life

The joy of Xanax

The greater the enervation, it is said, the greater the appreciation of a work of art. There was no place in Mme Benoit’s energetic life for art, if the austere interior of her huge consulting room was anything to go by. Human dynamos don’t need pretty pictures to look at. On a tiled floor the

Real life

Wild life

Africa’s invisible epidemics

Africa   ‘Ah, Africa,’ the French scientist sighed contentedly. This was 1995 and all around us was an Ebola epidemic ravaging Kikwit, a village in what they now call the Democratic Republic of Congo. ‘No lawyers to sue us!’ I had just asked him why doctors in the local hospital ward had shown me Ebola

Wine Club

Wine Club 14 March

I fear Jason Yapp is slowing up a bit. The co-proprietor (with step-brother Tom Ashworth) of Yapp Bros is notorious for his love of long lunches so I felt more than a little short-changed when, last week, he dashed for the early train before the digestif trolley had even slipped its moorings and steamed into

No sacred cows

Cartoonists have a right to free speech

I’m no fan of Steve Bell, the Guardian cartoonist. I can’t say I’ve ever laughed at one of his squibs, which are witless and crude. Some would call him ‘fearless’, but he just seems cruel and over the top to me. When the Guardian finally puts him out to grass, which surely won’t be long,

Spectator Sport

Billy the kid, football’s star of the future

Sadly it looks as though the 2020 Six Nations may have to go down with an asterisk and an explanation that might baffle future scholars — ‘Aborted due to the coronavirus’. Still, after the Wales game we can look back with affection on Owen Farrell at his horribly gobby worst, endlessly getting at Kiwi referee

Dear Mary


Mind your language

Why ‘housewife’ is no more demeaning than ‘husband’

My husband tried to identify in the 2011 census as ‘housewife’. Luckily I grabbed the form when he had dozed off and put him down as ‘economically inactive’. At bottom, housewife is no more demeaning than husband. Husband is compounded of the elements hus, ‘house’, and bond, ‘householder’. Housewife has the elements house, ‘house’, and