High life

High life | 14 March 2019

Gstaad   As Emperor Maximilian told his convulsed-by-tears servants as he was about to be executed by the Mexicans: ‘Who knew?’ Last week the owner of the Palace hotel in Gstaad rang me and asked me to join him for a drink with Akira Kitade, a Japanese author best known for Visas of Life and

Low life

Low life | 14 March 2019

Does the BBC suppose that it will convert the public to a belief in equality if it does not, in its heart, believe in it itself? Unlike the genial guidance of wartime propaganda, this current stuff feels like snobbish contempt. Of course no one forces me to watch state television, and apart from snooker, darts,

Real life

Real life | 14 March 2019

My mother is a classy lady. I have always known this, but it still affected me in a way I can’t quite describe to see that her handbags have bags. I was helping to move the folks into their new home when I discovered this rather wonderful fact about my mother. Praise be, by the

More from life

The turf | 14 March 2019

Encountering a generous-hearted bookmaker is normally as rare an occurrence as finding a picture of the Duchess of Sussex without her hand on the Markle pregnancy bump. All credit, then, to Coral and Betfair and one or two others for their behaviour last Saturday. After a thrillingly close finish to the EBF Matchbook VIP Novices’

Wine Club

The Brexiteers have blown it

If, as Rod Liddle says, Brexit has been killed there is no shortage of suspects. 75 of them, in fact. That’s the number of Conservative MPs who voted against the Government in last night’s second – but not necessarily final – meaningful vote. They wanted Brexit and then, when they were given it, they decided

Wine Club 16 March

My old chum Jason Yapp is never less than chipper. Indeed, his ebullience is boundless. In springtime, this innate effervescence fair bubbles over and his enthusiasm for his wines and his distaste for spittoons are dangerously infectious. It took an age to whittle this selection down to six and I trust you enjoy my choices

No sacred cows

Angry women who lead charmed lives

Scarcely a week passes without a privately educated young woman with a successful career in journalism publishing a book about how ‘oppressed’ women are. Names that spring to mind are Laurie Penny (Brighton College), Zoe Williams (Godolphin and Latymer), Laura Bates (King’s College), Afua Hirsch (Wimbledon High School) and Grace Blakeley (Lord Wandsworth College). Indeed,

Dear Mary

Dear Mary | 14 March 2019

Q. When my mother was widowed ten years ago she decided to take in lodgers to pay the gardener’s bills and other outgoings of the large family house she had lived in for nearly 40 years. This was a great success, not least because it provided company at what was initially a very difficult time.


A perfect Sunday in Lent

Life is far too important to be taken seriously. At least, that was the conclusion which we meandered towards as a Sunday lunch party eased into a symposium. Chaps had opinions to draft, articles to write, books to review. But no one was minded to defer to conscientiousness — especially as we had all made

Mind your language


‘The term coloured, is an outdated, offensive and revealing choice of words,’ tweeted Diane Abbott last week in response to Amber Rudd having remarked on the radio with regard to verbal abuse: ‘And it’s worst of all if you’re a coloured woman. I know that Diane Abbott gets a huge amount of abuse, and I think

The Wiki Man

IQ tests: the controversy that won’t go away

I have a dim memory from 1970 of a primly dressed distant relative visiting in a Baby Austin. This, I later learned, was the anthropologist Beatrice Blackwood. I googled her 45 years later and was astonished to find she had spent several years in the 1920s and 1930s living alone among Stone Age tribes in