High life

High life | 18 February 2012

Gstaad Here we go again! ‘I hear music and there’s no one there, I smell blossoms and the trees are bare, all at once I seem to walk on air…’ Some of you, or perhaps all of you, must be getting rather tired of this, but I simply can’t help it. I’m not doing it

Low life

Low life | 18 February 2012

Eight o’clock on a cold and frosty Sunday morning and my boy is driving me to the NHS emergency dentist. My boy’s seven-seater Toyota Previa cost him £300 and it’s turned out to be a reliable and comfortable old bus, though ‘very thirsty’ as he puts it. He’s proud of it, and seems pleased to

Real life

Real life | 18 February 2012

Wandering along a smart west London street after lunch, I happened upon a little tack shop. I have a strict policy of never passing by equestrian suppliers, as you know. I am quite hopelessly addicted to the smell of saddle leather. The sight of shiny new bridles hanging in a row makes me swoon the

More from life

Status Anxiety | 18 February 2012

Roxy’s successor As I write this, Roxy, my children’s pet hamster, is spinning happily in her wheel, with nary a care in the world. Unfortunately, it’s not the same Roxy who went missing four weeks ago. That hamster still hasn’t materialised after I foolishly left her cage door open one night. This is Roxy Mark

The turf: Nice guy

I was birdwatching the other day with a jolly Methodist minister who had only ever once been to a racecourse. Knowing nothing of the sport, in the first race he had backed an outsider called something like Holy Orders, purely on the name, and collected. He put most of his winnings on The Lord in

Dear Mary

Dear Mary | 18 February 2012

Q. When our daughter, who has a wheat allergy, comes up to stay for weekends or hols with her husband and children, my wife takes a lot of trouble ordering wheat-free loaves from a special source in our nearby town. These are then collected by my wife and pointed out to all present as being


Drink: Mature consideration

It started with a ’99 Margaux, which commanded general agreement from the Brits around the table. Nose, length, balance, harmony: all delectable. It was a velvety, feminine wine, full of promise. Even so, the home team concluded, it was not really ready. The Frenchman in our company could not have disagreed more. ‘You English —

Mind your language

Dickens’s coinages

Dickens’s coinages ‘Dickens. Makes a change,’ said my husband, flopping a TLS on to the chair next to his whisky-drinking chair and turning to the free Telegraph television guide. The sarcasm was stingless, as we’re only in the second month of Dickens year, with plenty to enjoy. I saw Dickens credited the other day with

The Wiki Man

The Wiki Man: In with the old

I have noticed Britons in France or Italy cringe with embarrassment, and mutter apologies to waiters when ordering a cappuccino after dinner — or at any time after noon. ‘Look, you needn’t apologise,’ I say. ‘The reason foreigners drink their coffee black isn’t because they’re sophisticated: it’s because their milk tastes like crap.’ It has