Real life

My battle to get hold of the good stuff

In the pitch dark, we stormed from the house to the pick-up truck and screeched out of our farmyard with me shouting: ‘Come on! This is our only chance! If we don’t get there now we’re done for!’ ‘They won’t sell to us because we’re English. It’s like those stories you hear about idiots who

More from life

Grumpiness is a way of life

I used to be a terrible grump who would rant and rage against the 1,001 irritations of modern British life. And then one day I decided life was too short to be permanently enraged by everything and everyone.  ‘These kind people simply want to share their music with me! How thoughtful!’ For grumpy me, the

Wine Club

No sacred cows

My futile morning guarding Churchill’s statue

On Armistice Day I made my way to Parliament Square with some vague notion of protecting Churchill’s statue. I’d discussed the need to stop it being defiled by pro-Palestinian protestors a few days earlier with a group I’m involved with called the British Friends of Israel, but in my head this had been a theoretical

Dear Mary

Dear Mary: why is the King tucking his tie into his trouser belt?

Q. I have noticed in various publications celebrating the King’s 75th birthday that he has been formally photographed with his tie tucked into his trouser belt. I am not sure about this look. Perhaps you might be kind enough to advise? After all, if His Majesty does adopt this, perhaps we few remaining tie wearers should


Mind your language

Is orthogonal nonsensical?

Even with ruler and compasses I couldn’t make sense of a remark I found on Twitter or X, as we all pleonastically call it. Someone had posted this observation: ‘One’s bank balance and number of children are orthogonal to social media usage.’ I knew the prefix ortho– meant ‘straight, perpendicular, right’. So orthogonal meant ‘right-angled’.



The gutters glutted:rusty, fallen, ferrous stars. An avenue of beeches,gaunt, grey, naked, majestic on their red carpet,in a dream of dethronement.

The Wiki Man

We need to talk about cannabis

Before we celebrate the ban on tobacco sales to people below a certain age, we need to consider what habits might take its place. And it might not only be vaping. Approaching the Holland tunnel in New York a few summers ago, I lowered my car window and was hit by the stench of cannabis

The turf

My top tips for the racing season

The cockerels of jump racing had better look out: the Hen is back. At 76, Henrietta Knight, whose feat of training Best Mate to win three consecutive Cheltenham Gold Cups will probably never be equalled, is to renew the licence she relinquished 11 years ago to care for her late husband, Terry Biddlecombe. Racing fans