High life

High life | 15 September 2016

I’m jittery and fragile but free of plaster and in the dojo, slowly turning lean and muscular. Never listen to your doctor is my message. Instead of two months in a cast I spent only five weeks, and I’ve just finished a brutal three-day course of karate with both the leg and elbow still intact.

Low life

Low life | 15 September 2016

Last week in Ladakh I went panting from one Buddhist monastery to another. Culturally, racially and historically, Ladakh is Tibetan, and the type of Buddhism practised there is Tibetan Buddhism. With a knowledgable local guide we visited the great Ladakhi monasteries at Basgo, Likir, Thikse, Alchi and Lamayuru. At each one we climbed the steps,

Real life

Real life | 15 September 2016

‘This is the last straw. Never again,’ I thought, as I sat in the carpark of a Little Waitrose eating a chicken mayonnaise salad with my bare hands. I always say this and I always come back for more. I tell myself I can handle it. If only I shop differently it won’t hurt. I’ll

More from life

Are grammar schools more meritocratic?

‘It is highly unlikely the Prime Minister has read the book,’ my father harrumphed, commenting on the appropriation of the word ‘meritocracy’, which he invented to describe a dystopian society of the future in The Rise of the Meritocracy. That comment appeared in a 2001 article for the Guardian and the Prime Minister in question

Long life | 15 September 2016

It’s been a very patriotic weekend, ablaze with Union flags. In London there was the Last Night of the Proms at the Royal Albert Hall, and in South Northamptonshire there was the ninth annual ‘Village at War’ festival at Stoke Bruerne on the Grand Union Canal. I watched the first event on television but attended

The turf | 15 September 2016

Say what you like about the St Leger — and I like it a lot — Doncaster’s finale to the British Classics rarely fails to provide a story. In 2012 it was Camelot’s narrow failure to become the first Triple Crown winner of the 2,000 Guineas, the Derby and the Leger since Nijinsky in 1970.

Spectator Sport

This looks like the greatest rugby side ever

British Lions fans of anervous disposition should avoid the telly of a Saturday morning. Live before your very eyes, as the southern hemisphere Rugby Championship unfolds, is the rebirth of an extraordinary new All Blacks side, now without Carter, McCaw, Ma’a Nonu and all. And, scarily, evenbetter than that World Cup-winning side. Warren Gatland, be

Dear Mary

Dear Mary | 15 September 2016

Q. At a recent party I was delighted to find my hosts had put me next to one of their most high-profile guests. We had never met before but they knew how much I had to say to this excellent woman. I was consequently dismayed when she failed to — or rather, was unable to


Not much to smile about

CBeebies Land is a small dystopia inside Alton Towers, a theme park where people sometimes get their legs chopped off by a rollercoaster called The Smiler. There is a gothic mansion by Augustus Pugin, the Nietzsche of cushions, which has been allowed to fall into ruin, because it is less important than the Runaway Mine

Mind your language

Va-t’en, Satan

What do you say to someone who is killing you? It is seldom possible to decide in advance. We are told that Fr Jacques Hamel, aged 85, murdered while saying Mass at Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray on 26 July, said, as his killers brought him to his knees to cut his throat: ‘Va-t’en, Satan.’ It is a reasonable