High life

High life | 19 October 2017

I may have spoken too soon last week when I defended my old friend Harvey Weinstein. It now looks very bad for him, with even Hillary Clinton joining the Greek chorus condemning him. It is not just boorish behaviour towards the fairer sex that he now stands accused of; it is also rape, something that

Low life

Low life | 19 October 2017

On Saturday night, I toddled up to the village hall for the fish-and-chip supper, quiz night and raffle — bring your own booze — hosted by the vicar. The hall was already packed when I walked in, and I was shown to the only one of 14 tables that wasn’t yet full and introduced to

Real life

Real life | 19 October 2017

Although it seemed unlikely, I did not immediately dismiss the possibility of a hit and run skip lorry. The witness reports were clear: they came to empty my skip, couldn’t manage it, smashed the street to smithereens and drove off. I came home from town that evening, drove up the track in the dark and

More from life

Sadly, true grit can’t be taught

I am currently wrestling with a dilemma. I have agreed to contribute to a panel discussion on character education at University College London, and while I generally applaud schools that try to inculcate qualities like perseverance, resilience, the ability to defer gratification, etc, I am not entirely convinced that these virtues can be taught. Should

Dear Mary

Dear Mary | 19 October 2017

Q. A newish friend who has very good manners lent me a DVD of his grandfather at the Olympics. I forgot to watch it. Now, a year later, he has asked for it back but I can’t find it! It is unique and irreplaceable. I feel rather guilty but did not ask to borrow the


A Dutch treat from Bordeaux

In 1995, a young Dutchman completed an MBA. Banking beckoned. An internship was arranged. But Alexander van Beek thought that he would have a brief gap-summer before surrendering to a life of suited servitude in a counting house. Even though he spoke no French and had little technical knowledge of wine, he went to Bordeaux,

Mind your language

Einstein vs Weinstein

Before I forget, I was cheered by the letter from Keith Aitken in last week’s issue noting another sense for tube (Mind your language, 7 October). ‘What are ye on about, ya tube?’ people shout as an insult in western Scotland, he says. He derives the term from the idea of their digestive functions dominating

The Wiki Man

Perception vs objective reality

I hate to tell you this, but every time you watch television you are being duped. In fact there are only three accurate things you will ever see on television. These are the colours red, green and blue. Each pixel on a screen can transmit three colours only. If blue alone is illuminated, the screen