High life

A nicer side of Nero

New York I haven’t felt such shirt-dripping, mind-clogging wet heat since Saigon back in 1971. The Bagel is a steam bath, with lots of very ugly people walking around in stages of undress that would once upon a time have embarrassed that famed stripper Lili St Cyr. How strange that very pretty girls do not

Low life

Jason Ricci is my mentor, guru and anointed one

A second week recovering in bed in this pleasant south-facing bedroom. If I sit up, my back resting against whitewashed rock, I can look out of the window across 30 miles of oak forest to the Massif Des Maures, a coastal mountain range. As the day progresses, these indistinguishable mountains are altered by the changing

Real life

My medical embarrassments are my business and no one else’s

While we were looking forward to Freedom Day, the National Health Service was busy planning something extra special to coincide with it almost exactly. From 23 June, our medical records can be given by our GPs to other agencies and third parties for the purpose of that most ambiguous of all state activities, ‘planning’. While

No sacred cows

The luxury of being pro-lockdown

I’ve just written an essay for the People’s Lockdown Inquiry, a new collaboration between Buckingham University, the Institute of Ideas and the Reclaim party. The question I’ve puzzled over in my contribution is why the global elite became such enthusiastic supporters of the heavy-handed, statist approach to managing the coronavirus crisis — stay-at home orders,

Dear Mary

Dear Mary: Has lockdown de-civilised my husband?

Q. Last night I went to dinner with people I had never met before. Because the host was a friend of my mother, I had to move next to her on a small sofa to send a photo home. We were then left in an awkward situation where we were sitting shoulder-to-shoulder for the rest


Mind your language

Critical issue: The complex language of gender

Seeing my husband in his armchair snoozing, as his unacknowledged habit is, head back, mouth open, stertorous and blotchy, it is sometimes hard to believe in the patriarchy. Along with the doctrine that we women are oppressed, a wave of terminology washes over us from the radio. Its originators believe that by gaining our acquiescence



It’s all right, the rain is falling. It’s all right, no need to worry. When was there ever a need? But you do, you do. It eats away at you – fear about infestation, damp, job, taxes, the household chores, and don’t even get onto personal relations, the vultures of failure bouncing with glee –


‘…he could not get rid of the tendency to reconstruct the “Ange” who was daily broken into fragments…’ — Italo Svevo, Senility As I wrap your photograph with its expensive frame back into the crêpe and then the paper deciding that I cannot go through this again the stupid vertigo at the merest sign of

The Wiki Man