High life

High life | 13 October 2016

New York   This is a good time to be in Manhattan, the weather’s perfect, the park and foliage still green, and daylight savings time keeps the days long. New York used to be able to build these beautiful cities within a city, like the Rockefeller Center, but that’s all in the past. The developers

Low life

Low life | 13 October 2016

Six months ago Sally was living in a third floor flat in Glasgow. Then she was thrown into the back of a car, drugged, and driven down to Provence. Since then I had watched with interest how she has adapted herself from life in a Scottish city to the heat, light and alien smells of

Real life

Real life | 13 October 2016

Against all odds, I almost got through an entire Brexit dinner with dignity, and without opening the valve in my head which allows hot steam to escape. Almost. Our little Leave Means Leave campaign soiree at a restaurant in Birmingham was going swimmingly until a TV journalist drew up a chair and within seconds started

More from life

The master of Ballydoyle

The only downside about going racing is irritation born of encountering pig ignorant people who talk through their pockets. Beside me at a Newmarket betting counter on Saturday shortly after Aidan O’Brien had once more dominated the big event of the day, not only winning the Dewhurst Stakes with his Derby prospect Churchill but taking

Long life | 13 October 2016

Monty Don, the television gardening presenter, always comes across on screen as irrepressibly cheerful and enthusiastic, but this is a misleading impression. In fact, he gets black moods. ‘It’s no secret that for many years I’ve suffered from depression,’ he said last week at the Cheltenham Literary Festival. He had tried Prozac and cognitive behavioural

Sorry, Shami, but you’re wasting your money

I’ve been thinking about poor Shami Chakrabarti and the drubbing she’s suffered since it was revealed she’s sending her son to Dulwich College. She joins a long line of Labour hypocrites who are opposed to grammar schools but choose to send their own children to selective schools. The list includes Harold Wilson, James Callaghan, Tony

Spectator Sport

The waning of Wayne

As the final chords of the Wagnerian epic that is ‘The Dropping of Wayne Rooney’ fade away, we can leave the auditorium to reflect on the momentous events we have just witnessed. Really, what a lot of fuss! Pages in the papers, endless phone-ins and enough online hot air to blow up a container-full of

Dear Mary

Dear Mary | 13 October 2016

Q. My father has been on the warpath to eradicate Tineola bisselliella, the common clothes moth. He told me to sort through my dressing room and administer sprays and pheromone strips. He’s finally eradicated them, or at least that’s what he thinks. In truth, I never bothered to go through my own clothes back in


Some like it posh

Daphne’s serves Italian food in South Kensington. (I like the name because Daphne was the name Jack Lemmon chose for his female self in Some Like It Hot, although Tony Curtis — Josephine — wanted to call him Geraldine. I know no one else called Daphne, and I do not need to. Lemmon sated me.)

Mind your language


Of the contribution to English that Polari is claimed to have brought, perhaps naff is the most current-sounding. An older suggestion for its origin, recorded in the Oxford English Dictionary, is from northern English naffu, ‘simpleton’. But, in a refreshing wander through the forest of Jonathon Green’s Dictionary of Slang, which this week went online,