High life

Coming soon: my engagement to Kristin Scott Thomas

As everyone who has ever joined a club knows, Pugs is the world’s most exclusive one, its members ranging from German nobility and Greek and Danish royalty to the British upper classes, Indian nobility and American and Greek aristocracy. Plus Sir Bob Geldof and Roger Taylor of pop music royalty. Club rules prohibit membership to

Low life

An orgy of violence at the summer fête

After three days tête-à-tête (and sometimes tête-à-pied) I walked into town alone to get some air and see what the town was like and the people in it. In one direction, above the hills, the sky was black. Above the town, however, the sun was shining fiercely through a gap in the clouds. Approaching the

Real life

To the eco-warrior on the moped…

‘Well,’ said my gay lawyer friend Stephen as I pulled over to drop him off at Sloane Square Tube, ‘it’s been a lovely evening. Absolutely lovely.’ And he opened the door and started to get out into Holbein Place, then stopped, as he always does, to have another little chat about how lovely the evening

Wild life

Please take your holiday in Kenya this year

 Rift Valley Many of my British tribe fled Kenya around independence in 1963 because they believed there was no future. Gerald Hanley, an Irish novelist who knew the country, forecast ‘a huge slum on the edge of the West, Africans in torn trousers leaning against tin shacks, the whites of their eyes gone yellow, hands

More from life

On being fired – and hired – as an editor

Last week was unusual. At the start of it, I was mooching about in the country in my customary way, doing little odd jobs and fretting over the fate of my poultry, which is once again under attack from foxes. I have yet to see a fox in Northamptonshire this year, but the farmer says

Dear Mary

Dear Mary: What’s the cure for a workshy teenager?

Q. I agreed to give (paid) gap-year work experience in my own large garden to the grandson of an extremely nice neighbour. I need the assistance and, in theory, a willing and able novice could learn a lot from me. The boy is due to start soon but now I’ve heard from someone who’s been


The joy of Glenmorangie

Glenmorangie is the most accessible of malt whiskies. It is a gentle, almost feminine creature, with hints of spring flowers, chardonnay, eine kleine nachtmusik, wholly different from the lowering malts of the Outer Isles. With them, there is no question of hints, let alone Mozart. A blast of peat and iodine arrives to the skirl

Mind your language

Terrorists still can’t ‘execute’ anyone

During the sudden advances of ISIS in Iraq, one visual image stood for their brutality. As the Daily Mail reported it, there was ‘a propaganda video depicting appalling scenes including a businessman being dragged from his car and executed at the roadside with a pistol to the back of his head’. I’ve heard from friends


Eva Remembers Her Two Brothers Called James

When she thinks (if she does) of the first James it is of a six-year-old who died when she was fourteen, of meningitis. His spirit, like a trespassing sprite, flew into his parents’ marriage bed and lurked there as they comforted each other. A month later, conspiring with the genie of ovulation and the hormone

The Wiki Man

The six things that’ll change when I rule the world

But why did the food [in England] stay so bad after refrigerated ships, frozen foods and eventually air-freight deliveries of fresh fish and vegetables had become available? … The answer is surely that by the time it became possible for urban Britons to eat decently, they no longer knew the difference. [Since] your typical Englishman,