High life

The lying game

Why do children lie? asks a boring headline in an even more boring Big Bagel magazine article. According to the bores who wrote it, children are encouraged to tell white lies, hence they get comfortable with being disingenuous, and insincerity becomes a daily occurrence. ‘Many books advise parents to just let lies go — they’ll

Low life

Tough competition

‘Whatever happens,’ said a bloke on the team at the next table rancourously, ‘we mustn’t let the students win.’ I’d not taken part in a pub quiz before and I’d always imagined them to be polite, melancholy affairs. This one, when we arrived ten minutes before the start, was noisy, chaotic and overcrowded. The students

Wild life

Ambushed in Somalia

As we entered the old city, the heat shimmered off coral towers half reduced to rubble by cycles of war. We had just exited Mogadishu’s presidential palace after a morning’s filming. Gemaal was at the wheel and Duguf rode shotgun. Cameraman Jim and I were in the back chatting. Then came the bang. Except I

Slow life

The name of the game | 23 February 2008

I’ve realised I don’t have a game, a sport. A man needs a game. It’s important. Says a lot about him; more than his car or his clothes. I asked the builders if they wanted to start a football team. ‘We’d have enough for six-a-side,’ I said. ‘Come on, it’ll be great! …Wednesday?’ But I

More from life

Status Anxiety | 23 February 2008

It’s a boy! This was the news following my wife’s 20-week scan last week. I know it is infra dig to find out the sex of your baby in advance, but Caroline said she needed to be psychologically prepared just in case it was a boy. She wanted another girl, obviously, and she didn’t want

Dear Mary

Dear Mary | 23 February 2008

Q. I am approaching my 50th birthday and I want to have a party for around 100 people. There is an ideal space near where we live in London. It belongs to a friend, who has kindly offered it to us free, but is only really suitable for 100 people. Since we cannot afford to

Mind your language

Mind your language | 23 February 2008

During the martyrdom by the press of Dr Rowan Williams, the Sun carried as its front-page splash headline ‘Bash the bishop’. I was surprised that a sentence of which the demotic meaning must have been familiar to the supposedly ill-educated readers of that paper was completely unknown to a brilliant and highly educated friend of

The Wiki Man

The Wiki Man | 23 February 2008

There was formerly a rude custom for those who were sailing upon the Thames, to accost each other as they passed, in the most abusive language they could invent… a fellow having attacked him with some coarse raillery, Johnson answered him thus, ‘Sir, your wife, under pretence of keeping a bawdy-house, is a receiver of