High life

High life | 19 November 2011

New York I had a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious week, and a weekend in Connecticut to recover from it. Let’s begin with the Norman Mailer benefit gala for which I had taken a table and filled it with swells and other such birds and creatures. The Mailer Centre is quite an extraordinary achievement only four years after the

Low life

Low life | 19 November 2011

My grandson Oscar, now nearly two, hardly says a word when he and I are out together. It’s like being out with a dog the conversation is so one-sided. He understands well enough. He’s attentive and interested and usually in favour of anything you care to mention. But he barely speaks. Which is strange because

Real life

Real life | 19 November 2011

A wise man once said it is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves. I say never go on a trip that ends with you sealing your laundry into vacuum packs before disposing of it like nuclear waste. Honestly, these Kilimanjaro climbers are mental. My own team was dominated by six previously sensible family men

More from life

Status Anxiety | 19 November 2011

The fact that the request came in late on a Thursday afternoon should have aroused my suspicions. ‘Are you available?’ she asked. This was a BBC producer asking me if I was free to appear on Any Questions the following day. I quickly ran through my commitments: pick up Caroline’s dry-cleaning, fix the lavatory seat

Motoring: Extreme driving

One week, two convertibles. The first, a 40-year-old held together by rust, with doors so warped I’ve taken them off, the windscreen secured by baler twine to keep out the rain when it stands but removed when we go anywhere, no lights, free road tax, cheap insurance, and a first-time starter that does all you

Dear Mary

Dear Mary: your problems solved | 19 November 2011

Q. I believe there is a recent trend among very well-brought-up people to attempt to alleviate the impression of elitism that their impeccable manners may provoke by putting their feet in places where they should not be. When I was in London just before the election, I noticed a picture of Mr Cameron sitting in


Drink: The long-life cocktail

Although the sample may seem unscientific, I have established a link between dry martinis and longevity. There was a wonderful old fellow called Roland Shaw, who lived to be nearer 90 than 80, and lived is the word. Even given the age of the vehicle, the mileage was prodigious. More than six-and-a-half feet tall, like

Mind your language

English English

Some man in the Daily Telegraph was going on about English not being only for the English. Dr Mario Saraceni, the man in question, an academic at the University of Portsmouth, goes further. He says: ‘It’s important the psychological umbilical cord linking English to its arbitrary centre in England is cut.’ But why should it

The Wiki Man

The Wiki Man: The rigged roulette wheel

I came face to face with the real banking problem a month ago when speaking in Oxford to an audience of undergraduates. ‘Well, I suppose one good thing about the last three years is that you won’t now all be applying to work in banks,’ I joked. It seems I was wrong. At these words,