High life

High life | 12 October 2017

I smell a rat when it comes to Harvey Weinstein. Let’s take it from the start. The telephone rang very early in the morning and a woman’s voice told me that Harvey Weinstein wanted to speak to me. I was put on hold. I waited. And waited, and then waited some more. The reason I

Low life

Low life | 12 October 2017

Early on Friday morning I flew from the north of Iceland to Reykjavik, from Reykjavik to Heathrow, then I hopped aboard the night sleeper from Euston to Glasgow Central to attend the wedding of Catriona’s eldest daughter, held the next day at the Winter Gardens of the People’s Palace on Glasgow Green. Three years ago,

Real life

Real life | 12 October 2017

They are building the bonfire already. In the dip where winter flooding sometimes creates a small lake, the wood and branches are being piled. A massive board has been nailed up announcing that ‘No More Material Is Required. By Order of The Bonfire Association.’ Therefore: ‘No Dumping.’ But someone has dared to disobey the order

More from life

Writers’ blocks

 Chicago ‘Write drunk, edit sober,’ Ernest Hemingway reportedly said, and Oak Park, on the leafy outskirts of Chicago, is the place where he became a writer (the drink came later). Here is the clapboard house where he was born, and learned to read and write, and a few blocks away is the home where his

Lazy bays

 Barbados Homesick by nature, I like my foreign places to be exotic but also to remind me of home. Barbados, for types like us, is the ideal holiday destination. Sea so warm you can loll in it for hours on end, and the charm of dusty rum shacks on hot afternoons — but also cucumber

The turf | 12 October 2017

The mission was simple: take a load of garden refuse to the council dump and be back in time to drive Mrs Oakley to an urgent appointment in Oxford. On my return, there was no Mrs Oakley in sight. Strange, since she is the sort who will camp out at the station the evening before

Steinbeck’s Eden

 Amalfi Coast ‘Nearly always when you find a place as beautiful as Positano, your impulse is to conceal it. You think: “If I tell, it will be crowded with tourists and they will ruin it, turn it into a honky-tonk and then the local people will get touristy and there’s your lovely place gone to

I met Weinstein and, yes, I’d heard the rumours

According to an ex-employee of Harvey Weinstein’s, the movie producer once whispered something to himself that she found so disturbing she wrote it down. After leaving his film company, where she claimed to have acted as a ‘honeypot’ to lure young models and actresses to meetings with her boss in hotel rooms, she signed a

A song of ice and snow

 Norway It might seem strange for someone who is half-Norwegian to decide on Scandinavian studies at university. But having lived in the UK my whole life, I wanted a better understanding of Scandinavia, its language, and its culture. In four years, I learned plenty of useful skills, such as the ability to read fuþark runes

Stress-free slopes

 Austria One day in February each year, my three children come home from school in London, but go to sleep in Germany. We pile into our old Rover 75 Estate, take the tunnel to Calais, then drive through France, Belgium and the Netherlands before collapsing into bed in Aachen: five countries in an afternoon. The

Desert flocks

 Ras Al Khaimah It’s the emirate you’ve never heard of, and a welcome antidote to the showmanship and excesses of Dubai – for now at least. The northernmost emirate, Ras Al Khaimah, is only 40 minutes by car from Dubai international airport, and is quickly emerging as an open tourist destination for the savvy traveller.

Wine Club

Wine Club 14 October

As readers know, The Spectator is a famously broad church. All manner of opinions are held and expressed here, and it’s impossible to find common ground, be it on Brexit, Trump and May, or even on the relative merits of Marmite and Bovril, say, or how to pronounce ‘controversy’ correctly. No one agrees about anything.

Spectator Sport

Why the England team is so unexciting

During a riveting session at the Cheltenham Literary Festival with sporting brainboxes Mike Brearley and Matthew Syed, discussion touched on the Ringelmann effect. This is the tendency for members of a group to perform less well together than individually. Old Ringelmann observed it in tug-of-war in the early 20th century. On their own the athletes

Dear Mary

Dear Mary | 12 October 2017

Q. A well-known television mogul,whom I had met only once, came to dinner at my house. I was on good culinary form and though I say it myself, the food and wine were exceptional. For various reasons it turned into an almost bespoke dinner for the mogul, in that the other guests were all people


Elle Decoration meets pub food

The Mandrake is a new ‘design hotel’ in London, which means it is for people who treat Elle Decoration magazine as their primary source of op-ed. It lives in a red-brick terrace in Fitzrovia and it feels very odd, like a corpse with the beating heart of a baby, perhaps even a Beckham baby: would

Mind your language

Not so much

‘Kiss me mucho,’ sang my husband with a revolting leer, ‘and we’ll soar. And we’ll dance the dance of love forevermore.’ I poured myself a whisky in a vain attempt to catch up, and returned to my task. Not so much was the subject of my researches, and I soon wondered why it had only