High life

I offered Zac Goldsmith £50 to stay 20 feet away from me

I once tried to bribe Zac Goldsmith with a £50 note, but he didn’t bite even back then. He was about 15 years old, and the reason for the hush money was pure self-preservation. He was already good-looking and I knew he’d be even more so at 20, so I offered him 50 quid to

Low life

Why Jesus sometimes plays a very long game

We closed the last page of a gruesome, thrilling picture book called The Day Louis Got Eaten and said our prayers. Our prayers are always the same. We ask Jesus to bless as many people known to us as we can remember, taking it in turns to name them. We aren’t sure what the range

Real life

More from life

Be warned: the mighty Air Force Blue blows away all before him

I was both delighted and unsurprised that Denis Healey made it to 98. One day in the 1970s I took him to lunch at L’Epicure. As he encouraged the waiter to pile his plate higher and higher from the hors-d’oeuvre trolley, my astonishment must have been plain because he grinned and declared: ‘Don’t worry about

My home Stoke Park has become a hotbed of sex and violence

When I’m not busy editing the Oldie magazine, I live near Towcester in south Northamptonshire where things are pretty unexciting. It’s at a place called Stoke Park, where two 17th-century pavilions, originally a chapel and a library linked by colonnades to the sides of a substantial country house, survived a fire that destroyed the main

How I’d make a success of a nude-free Playboy

I can’t say that I’m surprised Playboy has decided to stop publishing pictures of naked women. On the contrary, I was amazed to learn that it still does. What on earth is the point of a nudie magazine in an era when pornography of every conceivable kind is available at the click of a mouse?

Spectator Sport

I know who’s going to win the Rugby World Cup. I think

England did have some clear winners in their otherwise beached Rugby World Cup campaign in the unlikely form of Lawrence Dallaglio, Martin Johnson and Jack Whitehall, principals in the dazzling Samsung Rugby School TV ads. Superbly funny and brilliantly filmed, the ads take a chipper Whitehall through the finer points of rugby with, among others,

Dear Mary

Dear Mary: Another way to deal with a maddening blackhead

Q. Might I suggest an alternative solution to E.B. of London’s problem (3 October) about the person sporting a ‘maddening’ blackhead at a poolside party? Surely a more tactful way of drawing the man’s attention to the blackhead would have been for E.B. to pretend she thought it was an insect that had landed. On


I went to Pedro’s Tex Mex Cantina to claim my racist sombrero

Pedro’s Tex-Mex Cantina is a fantastical shack near a ring road in Norwich. It was recently asked to stop handing out sombreros at the University of East Anglia Freshers’ Fair, because anti-racist activists (henceforth known as ‘morons’) at the UEA Freshers’ Fair reckon the sombrero is racist, and gave the staff of Pedro’s Tex-Mex Cantina

Mind your language


Dementia Love

You lie so quiet on your bed, You hear the sound and turn your head. I wait and hope, perhaps a chance, The faintest smile – I hold your glance But no – no hint of recognition. I press your lips and take your hand And move aside a greying strand – You seem surprised