High life

My return to New York is a mixed blessing

New York Ha, ha! What London turned down, the Bagel accepted with alacrity, namely the poor little Greek boy. And it took ten minutes max after disembarking to go through customs and collect my luggage. Kennedy had fewer people than a gay wedding in Saudi, and then some. Mind you, the Upper East Side, where

Low life

Mon dieu! Our French residency permits have arrived

For EU nationals living in Britain and wanting to legally remain after Brexit, a letter or an email was enough to clinch it. It would have been churlish then for France not to reciprocate by relaxing its almost hallucinatory bureaucratic requirements for the British in France, allowing them to do the same. And to the

Real life

No sacred cows

Spectator Sport

Outs-rage: the dumbing down of cricket

So wickets are out and outs are in for the new Hundred competition. But why? The language of sport is a beautiful thing, even in the hands of a pub bore. Why is it a try in rugby, when you have to touch the ball down, and a touchdown in American football, when you don’t?

Dear Mary


Back to the future: Bentley’s Oyster Bar & Grill reviewed

The west end of London is still pale and necrotic, but there are points of light. Hatchards the bookseller is open and its memorial to the Duke of Edinburgh is relatively, blissfully, restrained: a portrait in the window, with minimal text for a writer to trip up on his own sycophancy. People are buying whisky

Mind your language

How ‘ACAB’ links David Bowie and BLM

A favourite piece of graffiti to spray on the Cenotaph or the plinth of Churchill’s nearby statue is ACAB. It stands for ‘All coppers are bastards’, though Americans substitute the word cops for coppers. In graffiti form it is sometimes rendered 1312, from the place of the letters in the alphabet. As a slogan, ACAB


The Watchmaker of Idlib

The room shakes. He holds the hairspring up to the light. In the hour before the jets come he plays old cassettes of Farid El-Atrache and dreams of Beluga where his son, Tariq, once drew a clock in the sand. They bring him pieces of broken time: cracked faces, lost years, and place them into

To Derek Mahon

Flaubert said he could hear the fallof the words several pages aheadbefore he’d even written them. Your poems felt like that to me —or should I say, feel like that:they haven’t died, as you have, and never will, singer of backyards, afterlives, banished gods and the lost places of the earth. Seeing in inanimate things

The turf

Hats off to Rachael Blackmore

Sporting heroes in our modern world have an extra burden to carry. Within seconds of their triumph, with the adrenaline still pumping, somebody is going to thrust a live microphone in their face and demand: ‘What does it feel like to have been the first person of Asian lineage to surmount six metres in the