High life

High life | 14 July 2016

The Spectator readers’ party was as always a swell affair, with long-time subscribers politely mingling with ne’er-do-wells like myself, the former having cakes and drinking tea, the latter desperately raiding the sainted editor’s office for Lagavulin whisky. But for once I was on my best behaviour, first out of respect for our readers, secondly because

Low life

Low life | 14 July 2016

One moment Trev and I were grooving on the dancefloor, Trev with his head bowed, his eyes closed, and his arms extended like a glider; the next, it seemed, Trev was telling the taxi-driver to drop us off outside an 18th-century townhouse with its front door on the high street. As I got out of

Real life

Real life | 14 July 2016

Bonjour mes amis! Cydney spaniel ici, en France! Well, the Eurotunnel was very nice, although the dog departure lounge could have been grassier. I’m not a fan of AstroTurf. Doesn’t hold a scent very well. No one checked my passport either. Mummy passed it through the window with hers and his as we went through,

Wild life

Wild life | 14 July 2016

Gilgil, Kenya   At our Gilgil hut in the Rift Valley I’ve had a new flower garden planted to welcome my wife Claire home from England. Here at 7,000 feet in Africa, temperate and tropical species grow together: roses and aloes, pears and bananas. In midwinter, when she went under the knife, I was back

More from life

Long life | 14 July 2016

When you are recovering from a stroke, you spend much of the time asleep. But when you are not sleeping, you are told that the most important thing you have to do is avoid stress. All doctors agree that stress is the main impediment to recovery. But how can you possibly protect yourself against it?

The truth about ‘post-truth politics’

The departure of Andrea Leadsom from the Conservative leadership race was a blow to pundits who claim we’re living in an age of ‘post-truth politics’. According to Michael Deacon, the Telegraph’s political sketchwriter, she was an ideal candidate because she embodied the ‘anti-factual’ mood of the country. ‘Facts are negative,’ he wrote, parodying the attitude

Wine Club

Wine Club 16 July

We at The Spectator drink a lot of Pol Roger Champagne. It’s more or less the house pour. Not every day you understand, just on high days and holidays such as the Spectator summer party, from which more than a few of us are still recovering. And I must say that when standing like a

Dear Mary

Dear Mary | 14 July 2016

Q. My wife and I are enthusiastic dancers so when we heard that people we know through mutual friends were giving a party on a sprung floor at Cecil Sharp House in Regent’s Park with ceilidh dancing and a caller, we were desperate to go. The trouble was, we hadn’t been invited. We knew there


From Hegel to Riesling

John Stuart Mill did not describe the Conservatives as the stupid party. He merely said that although not all Tories were stupid, most stupid people voted for them (cf. Brexit). But at any level above automatic loyalty at the polling box — not to be deprecated — Conservatism is no creed for the intellectually limited.

Mind your language

Gig economy

In the same song where the brilliant lyricist Ian Dury gave the world the couplet, ‘I could be a writer with a growing reputation/ I could be the ticket-man at Fulham Broadway station’, his narrator speaks of ‘first-night nerves every one-night stand’. Perhaps we are now more accustomed to one-night stand referring to a casual

The Wiki Man

We need to invent something better than Machu Picchu

Don’t know if you’ve noticed, but middle-class rules now require that every dinner party cheeseboard must contain at least two cheeses which aren’t very nice. Typically one will be a veiny French cheese which is not as good as Stilton; another may be that foreign thing with rind on it which isn’t nearly as good