High life

High life | 14 May 2011

Why would a German playboy-billionaire industrialist with a large family and lots of old and good friends have dinner in Gstaad with one of his closest buddies, then go up to his chalet and put a bullet in his brain? As of writing, Gunter Sachs’s suicide is a mystery. But Gunter was always somewhat mysterious,

Low life

Low life | 14 May 2011

I came up to town for a party to launch a new publishing company called Notting Hill Editions. One thing led to another afterwards, my rail ticket was open-ended, and I stayed up in town for two days and nights, drinking in pubs and clubs. Two incidents stand out in my mind from the broken

Real life

Real life | 14 May 2011

My appeal against a fine for stopping for a few seconds on a faded zigzag line in a dark, deserted suburban street has been rejected, unsurprisingly. What is more surprising is the letter I received telling me about this. It was signed by someone called Okiemute O, and where his signature ought to have been

More from life

Status Anxiety: Grammatic irony

I received a shocking letter from a 15-year-old schoolgirl called Carola Binney last week. It was a real marmalade dropper. In all my years I’d never seen anything quite like it. Had she really spent the past 11 years in full-time education? It scarcely seemed possible, not at a British school. To my astonishment, all

The turf: Focus on the Flat

The debate on whether or not the extraordinary Frankel should contest the Derby seems to be concluded, at least in Henry Cecil’s mind, which is the place that matters. The common view seems to be that no mere horse could repeat over the undulations of the four furlongs longer Derby course the extraordinary physical explosion,

Spectator Sport

Spectator Sport: Who now carries the spirit of Seve?

Anyone concerned that their tear ducts might not be in working order should take a look at the 2009 Sports Personality of the Year show, when Severiano Ballesteros was given a lifetime achievement award. The gong is presented to Seve at his home in Spain by his friend (and the other half of surely the

Dear Mary

Dear Mary | 14 May 2011

Q. I recently met an old friend I had not seen for some years. Answering his question about my meeting with a certain film star, I mentioned cosmetic surgery, in a disparaging tone. He seemed confused rather than amused, and after we parted it dawned on me that perhaps he too had ‘had work done’.

Mind your language

Mind your language | 14 May 2011

A rumour ran round Cern the other day, almost as fast as its accelerated particles, that the Higgs boson had been detected. This little creature, named after Peter Higgs (born, 1929) and the Indian physicist S. N. Bose (1894–1974), is tailor-made for a cosmic theory that calls for its interaction with quarks. For my part,