High life

Conquering heroes

Just 555 short years ago last month, troops led by Mehmed II broke through the walls of the ancient Christian capital of Constantinople, ending a gallant defence by Constantine Paleologos, the last king of Byzantium. Just five even shorter days ago, a portly barrister and a ten-year-old almost pulled off the greatest cricket upset ever,

Low life

Run, rabbit run

As I came around the corner from the gents’ lavatory, head down, concentrating on rebuttoning my flies, a manual skill I’ve yet to master completely, I accidentally barged into a man with a hawk perched on his arm. He was a calm, friendly man of about my age. His hawk was magnificently liveried in brown

Real life

Bad manners

God must have an extremely thick skin. I do hope so anyway. I just had a shocking insight into the sort of thing He probably has to put up with all the time. The incident in question took place at a Neil Diamond concert in Birmingham. I had not gone to the National Indoor Arena

Wild life

On red alert

‘Yaes!’ I’ll answer the phone in a falsetto Scottish accent. ‘Can ae help yay?’ If the voice is unfamiliar I lapse into Gaelic and slam down the receiver. This is my strategy for tackling a new wave of death threats being made against me. I have also taken to wearing funny hats, a stick-on moustache

More from life

Excited but drained

The first lap of Le Mans last weekend passed in a daze. The thought of performing on that hallowed 14km (8–9 mile) circuit in front of thousands was bad enough, even for one who would have been content with the record for the slowest lap, but the thought was as nothing compared with the fact.

Traditional virtues

You have probably forgotten about this year’s Chelsea Flower Show by now, it having segued into all the other Chelseas you have ever seen. I, however, am still, if not haunted, then certainly preoccupied by it. It wasn’t, strangely, the show gardens, nor yet the plants, so much as the people who have stayed with

Status Anxiety | 21 June 2008

If I try to take Manhattan again, I’ll fail completely. Perfect! Well, my wife had the baby. I am now a father of four and, as such, have been doing some thinking about how I am going to support them all in the years to come. My problem is, I do not really have a

Spectator Sport

Spectator Sport | 21 June 2008

I used to play squash with a distinguished veteran film critic, currently plying his trade on the London Evening Standard. I would force the ball to his backhand but the diminutive master of cinema would simply flick his racket from his right hand to his left and smash it back past me as a forehand

Dear Mary

Dear Mary | 21 June 2008

Q. I am in despair because I am growing fatter and fatter with every week that passes. I seem to have developed the most enormous appetite and now want roughly double what I used to eat. I have had all the relevant medical checks done privately and there is nothing wrong with me other than

Mind your language

Mind your language | 21 June 2008

How funny to find the apostrophe described as a ‘notoriously difficult punctuation mark’ in last week’s Letters. It’s simple. So, the simple reason that St Thomas’s Hospital should be spelt with the final s is that it is pronounced by everybody as tom-ass-is, and the spelling must reflect that. I agree that Earl’s Court is,