High life

High life | 15 February 2018

#MeToo! It happened right here, in Gstaad, last week. A man in his mid-fifties, about six foot tall and 165lb, grabbed me forcibly by the neck, pushed my head down, and then slid his hand between my legs. He continued to do so in a very dominating and aggressive way — he could have passed

Low life

Low life | 15 February 2018

I’m cooking almost full-time for my poor old Mum and learning on the job: shepherd’s pie, roast pork, cauliflower cheese. I’m slaving over the stove and recipe book for hours and she hardly touches any of it. ‘Come on. Eat up. Do you good,’ I say, not unconscious of the role reversal. The other day

Real life

Real life | 15 February 2018

After much thought, I am toying with the idea of faking my own death. I mean in a virtual sense, but as virtual reality is more important than physical reality nowadays, this is pretty heavy stuff. Specifically, I want to cease to exist on Facebook, Twitter and all other social networking platforms, where I barely

More from life

The turf | 15 February 2018

Write a few books and you have to listen politely at parties as people who have never opened yours tell you, at some length: ‘I’ve always felt I had a book in me.’ Many things in life look easy until you have to knuckle down to it, hence the golfer Gary Player’s sardonic comment to

Wine Club

Wine Club 17 February

Dry January must have heightened my senses. Or maybe I’m simply craving alcohol. Either way, I’m pretty chuffed with this week’s selection, courtesy of FromVineyardsDirect: six classic French wines. It took an age to whittle the wines down to six, largely because I felt compelled to drain every bottle. I’d hate you to think I

Europeans are Britain’s new minority

If you ran the marketing department of a progressive organisation, which wanted to advertise its inclusiveness, how would you do it? My guess is that you would run down the checklist of identity politics and first make sure your advertising had a perfect gender balance. Showing men and women equally would not be enough, however.

Children’s cinema is conservative – and brilliant

The Oscars promise to be truly unbearable this year, with vomit-inducing levels of sanctimony followed by the usual gibberish from the commentariat. The results and speeches and even clothes will be subject to endless politicised scrutiny, and whatever the film industry does to stay Woke, the Buzzfeed headline will inevitably be ‘and people aren’t happy

Jeremy Corbyn has a new enemy: Mumsnet

I have learned a lot since writing about gender laws here last week. I’ve learned that if you ever want to flood your Twitter timeline with people arguing about something, writing an article about gender laws is a good way to do it. I’ve learned that some people do indeed get very angry about this

No sacred cows

I’m allergic to all this constant outrage

I’m often surprised by what people are offended by. Like the makers of Peter Rabbit, the new animated feature from Sony Pictures, I could not have predicted that a scene in which Peter and his friends pelt another character with blackberries in the hope of triggering an allergic reaction would provoke a storm of protest.

Dear Mary

Dear Mary | 15 February 2018

Q. We want to invite a rather exceptional friend to dinner. He lives nearby but he has a top job and also travels a lot so we hardly ever see him. More to the point, his wife controls his social diary. Our problem is that the wife has become a tiny bit chippy about her


Grateful for my grateful friend

The phone rang. ‘You are the last person in the world I should be talking to’, proclaimed an old friend from the States. ‘How have I offended you this time?’ was my surprised reply. ‘Not you personally. My beef is with your hero Donald Trump.’ ‘That is not true. In any jurisdiction, I always like

Mind your language


My heart leapt up on Newport station, an unusual place for that to happen, when I heard a recorded announcement: ‘Wedi sylwi. Wedi sôn. Wedi setlo.’ It was a pleasure to hear it in an ancient language after so often having been annoyed by the English equivalent from the British Transport Police: ‘See it. Say

The Wiki Man

Reducing activities to their core misses the point

There may be a very simple evolutionary reason why water does not really taste of anything, as I learned from the psychophysicist Mark Changizi. Pure water has no taste because our taste buds have been calibrated, very sensibly, not to notice it. For a few million years, the most important contribution taste buds made to