High life

My drug-addict friend needs medical help, not a prison sentence

 Gstaad ‘On ne touche pas une femme, même avec une fleur,’ says an old French dictum, one not always adhered to in the land of cheese, or anywhere else, for that matter. However hackneyed it may sound — don’t you hate it when a hack declares an interest in order to gain brownie points for

Low life

Real life

Why is campaigning so thankless? 

‘Quick, let’s slip one in the menu,’ said the builder, taking a leaflet from my handbag after we had paid the bill at the pavement café where we had just had lunch. As he did that, I put one inside the menu on the next table, which was empty, and the table beyond that. As

More from life

Playground bullies and the contradiction at the heart of democracy

A new book by a Swedish psychiatrist has just come out that I like the sound of. It’s called How Children Took Power and argues that the child-centred approach to parenting that’s been popular in Scandinavia since the 1960s has created a nation of ouppfostrade, which roughly translates as ‘bad children’. Dr David Eberhard, a

The Grand National needs kinder weather

This year you don’t want to be a jockey’s valet. Never have their washing machines spun so vigorously. From every sortie, riders return as mud-spattered as if they had been trampled by a dozen rugby scrums, and so many of us gathered at the Abbey Road Studios to hear the weights to be carried in

Was Graham Greene right about Shirley Temple? 

Shirley Temple, who died last week at the age of 85, was the most successful child film star in history. During the second half of the 1930s, a decade in which she made 23 films and earned $3 million before puberty, she was America’s most popular film star of any kind; Clark Gable came only

Spectator Sport

In defence of the BBC’s Sochi commentators

You can trust the BBC to behave like a leaf blown by any breeze, but even that spineless leviathan (if such a beast could exist) might have tried to grow a pair and stick up for its admirably manic commentators at the Sochi Winter Olympics. It was Ed Leigh, Aimee Fuller and Tim Warwood on

Dear Mary


The Fable would do better as an American Psycho theme bar

The Fable is three floors high and two days old, a monster newly hatched on the Holborn Viaduct; deep below is the valley of the River Fleet, which is genuinely fabulous, but absent from sight. The Fable has the following interesting schtick — fairytales. The question, of course, is whose? Here, cries the PR nonsense, lie

Mind your language

When Scotland goes, will England return?

Who, my husband asked, expects every man will do his duty? He was responding to the interesting and important question that Charles Moore raised last week about the name of the country if Scotland leaves. My husband, naturally, is all for calling it England. Even the Oxford English Dictionary defines England as ‘The inhabitants of


this is a message

As I make my way to the greenhouses a seagull kills me in its pure white throat. Quiet in the tomatoes. Quiet among the beans. Soft dark patches where the rain leaks in. Can I come home? Has it been too long? Tall weeds growing through the coils of hose.