High life

Two books that made me forget everything else

Gstaad I’ve been hitting the books rather hard lately, the ritzy-glitzy crowd having gone the way of natural snow. There’s great skiing, they tell me, but it’s on man-made white stuff, which is a bit like going to bed with a plastic doll instead of the real thing. I know, skiing is skiing, but it’s

Low life

War has broken out between me and my siblings

Last night I watched a boxed set. Parade’s End is a small box set as box sets go, and quite old, but my snobbish vow never to watch one is broken. The lead character, Christopher Tietjens, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, is an old-fashioned Tory aristocrat. His wife and almost everyone else in the film takes

Real life

How to catch a thief

My tech guy Andy appeared on the doorstep in a puff of smoke. I had just texted him to ask if he was still coming and as I typed the words I heard his footsteps outside. I raced to the door and opened it to find him standing, wizard like, amid a cloud of vapour.

Wild life

My narrow escape from a burning aircraft

Addis Ababa airport   This morning I caught a connecting flight via Addis Ababa’s Bole airport. For me this place has always been like a magical wardrobe, leading me towards different adventures across Africa. Today Ethiopia is the world’s fastest-growing economy and Bole is a continental crossroads, teeming with religious pilgrims, wandering tourists, African traders

No sacred cows

The delusion of the born-again Brexiteers

As 31 January looms, I’ve been thinking about how to bring the country back together again after we’ve left the EU. How can those who’ve spent the past three-and-a-half years fighting Brexit tooth and nail be persuaded to accept Britain’s new status? Bear in mind that many of them occupy highly influential positions — as

Spectator Sport

Sport needs more men like Vincent Kompany

Anyone still vaguely tempted to subscribe to that lazy and stupid cliché about footballers just being overpaid idiots should have been at the Savoy the other night when the Football Writers’ Association paid tribute to Vincent Kompany, Manchester City’s legendary former captain. The term ‘role model’ is hackneyed, but if ever it was applicable it

Dear Mary

Dear Mary: How can I stop other diners eating my chips?

Q. My husband and I are committed Brexiteers. For many years we have regularly enjoyed friendly bridge evenings with a couple who are Remainers, but who are in every other respect unexceptionable. On consulting my diary this morning I noticed to my horror that it is our turn to host our next evening on 31


Fairy food for fairy wives: Julie’s Restaurant reviewed

Julie’s is a 50-year-old restaurant in Holland Park, London, newly emerged from three years of closure as plushly renovated as its customers. The website calls it ‘a Holland Park favourite, neighbourhood classic and hangout for the Hollywood set, high society and rock stars since 1969’. Whenever I hear the words ‘high society’ I reach for

Mind your language

Pansexuality has been around longer than you think

When an MP announced she was pansexual I didn’t know what she meant. Indeed I didn’t know what she could mean. Was everything the object of her sexual desires? So I asked my husband. ‘Oh, that’s what they used to call Freud’s ideas,’ he said patiently. I was surprised to find he was right. Pansexual