High life

I know how Jonny Bairstow feels

A poor little Greek boy writing about cricket etiquette is like Harry Sussex lecturing on discretion, but never mind. As everyone but Joe Biden knows by now, Jonny Bairstow was given out recently during the second test match at Lord’s. For any of you out in Baja California who might have missed it, the Brit

Real life

Maybe the village will be sad to see us go after all

‘You certainly gave us a run for our money,’ said the village elder, serving us with what appeared to be the official goodbye statement. I was sick of that old navy dressing gown myself. Shortly afterwards I got him a new one from Sainsbury’s The builder boyfriend was flabbergasted. He had been walking across the

No sacred cows

I expected more from Caitlin Moran

I first met Caitlin Moran at Julie Burchill’s flat in Bloomsbury. This was in the early 1990s and she was a precocious teenager who’d written a play and published a few pieces. Julie had asked her to write for the Modern Review, a magazine I co-owned with Julie and her then husband Cosmo Landesman, and

Dear Mary

Dear Mary: How do I stop fans asking me for selfies?

Q. My wife and I live in a grace-and-favour house with beautiful gardens, of which our landlord is justly proud. He employs a full-time gardener to tend the grounds around the big house and also around our cottage. The gardener has recently developed a habit of using petrol-powered tools, such as strimmers and lawn mowers,


Where to drink Tuscany’s finest summer tipples

Some subjects invite an eternal recurrence. One such is Tuscany. The other day, I wrote about that glorious region: its mastery of la dolce vita, its almost effortless command of civilisation. Indeed, Tuscan civilisation is a tautology. Since then, I have paid a brief visit. There was only one shadow. How can one find the

Mind your language

What does Keir Starmer mean by ‘oracy’?

‘Is that something to do with oratory?’ asked my husband, looking up from the Guardian, which he only reads to annoy me, though it doesn’t. He was talking about the word oracy, which featured in Sir Keir Starmer’s speech last week about ‘smashing the class ceiling’. I think that, like my husband, most people assume


Title Cards

Jack would play the organ At the local Odeon Until the talkies came. Could Gwyneth love him the same As when in matinees Crisply shadowed rays Of Hollywood had been On the smoke and on a screen Like linen on the bed Where nothing at all was said, And they moved in a black and

Ghost Girls

We’d wear our best to the factory bench to catchsome of the luminescence in their folds, painted nailsand teeth with the stuff Mrs Curie had kept phialsof in her pockets like tubes of mints. Became knownas the ghost girls for the soft, green light we emitted. Looking back we guessed the men with dollars in

The Wiki Man

Light bulb moment: the flaw in the petrol car ban

This week, writing in the Daily Mail, Matt Ridley produced a devastating takedown of the government’s 2030 ban on the sale of new conventionally powered cars. He plans to pre-empt the ban himself by buying a brand-new petrol car in 2029. Innovation happens gradually and delivers its benefits unevenly – therefore it is stupid to

The turf

Paddington emerged victorious but Eclipse was an enthralling duel

I should have listened to George Duffield. Sandown Park’s Eclipse Stakes, the first time the Classic generation of three-year-olds take on their elders, is one of my favourite races and the then 53-year-old rider’s triumph on Giant’s Causeway in 2000, beating Kalanisi by a head after Pat Eddery had driven him into the lead 200