Still Life

How a hitchhiker gave me a glimpse into my past

On the mantel shelf of the cave there’s an invitation to my middle daughter’s wedding in August. This happy event is causing anxiety on several counts, not least finding something to wear. I hate shopping. Algorithms send me dozens of hideous armour-plated mother-of-the-bride outfits daily but I want to know what Kate Moss would wear

Real life

I feel for my Jewish friends

‘So what you’re telling me,’ said the priest to the builder boyfriend, ‘is that you were brought up by Irish tinkers, moving from place to place, and have no idea whether or where you were baptised or confirmed?’ ‘And you,’ he said, turning his gaze to me, ‘think your confirmation was done by the Pope

More from life

‘Terribly chic’: how to make chouquettes

I have become obsessed with the French idea of goûter, the time in the afternoon when French schoolchildren have a sweet treat to tide them over from the end of the school day until dinner. It’s just teatime, really, a pause for an afternoon snack – my kid has the same, but we don’t have

No sacred cows

Confessions of a catnapper

As Christopher Snowdon recently pointed out, the past few governments have had a habit of passing laws that are either wildly ambitious or incredibly trivial, while neglecting the real problems Britain faces, such as the housing shortage, the productivity crisis and the eye-watering dysfunction of the NHS. An example of the former is the net-zero

Spectator Sport

Is pro-golf eating itself? 

Spare a thought for Manchester United’s Erik ten Hag. He’s got a fairly crummy, injury-hit team who appear to have given up running (apart from Alejandro Garnacho who is still young enough to think that it’s OK to belt down the left wing and then deposit the ball somewhere, though not in goal). His new

Dear Mary

Dear Mary: how should I thank a friend for dead flowers?

Q. I left fashion school last year and since then I’ve spent most of my time applying for jobs and being rejected. (That’s only if they’re kind enough to send a rejection – most simply ghost me.) I finally have a job (the company does fast fashion) but when I tell my friends, who are


Mind your language

Can you ‘go gangbusters’? 

‘Is it anything to do with cockle-picking?’ asked my husband, confident he was on the right track. Naturally he wasn’t. We’d just heard that the economy, growing by 0.6 per cent, was ‘going gangbusters’. The nearest my husband could get was gangmasters, a word we had both learned in 2004, when at least 21 Chinese


Dark Green House

Your phone still works. All I have to do is dial your old number and I’ll hear your voice sounding almost like yourself. Perhaps you are not feeling well? I am walking in a part of London unknown to me but for the fact you live here, and always have done – an alleyway I

The turf

The early tragedy of the flat season

The Flat season proper has opened with an almighty shock and a cruel tragedy. First City of Troy, the latest horse to be anointed by the incomparable Aidan O’Brien as the best he has ever trained, flopped like a wet sponge in the 2000 Guineas. Then with Charlie Appleby’s Godolphin team mopping up top races