High life

How dare they sell the beaches where I played as a child

 Porto Cheli Nothing is moving, not a twig nor a leaf, and I find myself missing the cows, the mountains and the bad weather. The sun has become the enemy, a merciless foe who can be tolerated only when swimming, something I do for close to an hour a day. Nothing very strenuous, mind you,

Low life

Real life

The pleasures of being a boring old unmarried couple

The problem with not getting married, I am increasingly realising, is that you cannot get divorced. There is no mechanism for separating when you are simply co-romancing with someone. The builder boyfriend and I are not even cohabiting. We simply pop round to each other’s houses as the fancy takes us. Not that I am

More from life

The word ‘holiday’ has become a political taboo

It’s August in Tuscany, and the market towns are eerily quiet, presumably because most of their inhabitants are off on their summer holidays by the sea, in the mountains, or wherever. But there also seem to be fewer foreigners about than usual. Maybe they are lurking somewhere — in Florence or Siena probably — but

Mark Simmonds was just saying what a lot of MPs think

I feel some sympathy for Mark Simmonds, the Conservative MP who’s resigned as a minister and is stepping down at the end of this Parliament because he can’t support his family. His announcement has been greeted with scorn and derision by the chattering classes — how dare he complain that an MP’s salary isn’t enough

Dear Mary


Visiting Burgundy from my hospital bed

There have been some splendid rumours about my health. According to the most exotic, I was cas-evacked from a hill in Scotland, flown to St Thomas’s by private plane and then tested positive for Chateau Lafite. The truth is more banal — and much more reprehensible. I had neglected an infected foot: what an idiot.

Mind your language

Is Boris Johnson standing for Parliament — or running for it?

‘Boris Johnson broke cover yesterday to declare that he will run for parliament,’ the Times reported last week. The Mirror had him running too. The Independent and the Guardian had him standing for Parliament. The Express said rather oddly that he would ‘stand as an MP’, as did the Evening Standard, though the latter made

The Wiki Man

How oneupmanship wrecks things for everyone

‘There’s a little bit of a fascist in all of us. For some, the tragedy of human want may provoke an impatient urge to expropriate and centralise economic resources. Others, alarmed at the world’s exploding population, may be attracted by calls for a programme of mass compulsory sterilisation. But for me it’s letter boxes and