High life

High life | 21 March 2013

He was a member of a charmed circle of Hellene and Philhellene intellectuals just before and after the second world war, experiencing modern Greece and seeing it as a place rich in beauty and a stimulus to artistic creation. Patrick Leigh Fermor, whose biography by Artemis Cooper I just put away almost in tears —

Low life

Low life | 21 March 2013

The final few passengers straggled aboard and a sulky, petulant-looking BA steward, his orange face creased with sleep, passed through economy slamming up the overhead lockers. Though trained to be cheerful, democratic and polite, tonight, at least, none of these crowd-pleasing attributes came naturally to him. The rictus grin said: Economy, I despise you all.

Real life

Real life | 21 March 2013

My nerves were already shot to pieces when my phone rang and a faint little voice said, ‘Hallo, this is Vodafone, we’re just ringing to let you know we’ve got some offers for you.’ I was about to hang up when I remembered, in some sunken recess of the shrivelled left-hand side of my brain,

Wild life

Wild life | 21 March 2013

Rift Valley ‘We’re on the frontline,’ I said. ‘And however many guns we had, it wouldn’t be enough against the cattle rustlers.’ ‘Yes,’ replied my friend Jamie, a shareholder in our farm. ‘You’re low-hanging fruit.’ I showed him the bullet holes riddling my Land Cruiser, and told him again about the ambush, the raids, how

More from life

At last! A tango-dancing pope

Just a year ago on this page I was writing about Pope Benedict XVI’s elder brother Georg and how, while ostensibly discreet and loyal to his celebrated sibling, he contrived at the same time to make him look too old and bumbling for the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church. In a book, My Brother,

What is this word?

‘What are you writing?’ I asked my nine-year-old daughter as she sat at the kitchen table doing her homework. ‘A recount,’ she said. ‘What’s a recount?’ She looked at me with utter disdain. ‘Duh! A recount.’ I calmly explained that you could recount an event in a piece of writing, but that didn’t make what

Spectator Sport

Blonde ambition

Seems a little weird to be rabbiting about sport at a time when a malign confederacy of sanctimonious do-gooders, vengeful politicians, hypocritical celebrities and hatchet-faced lefties has brought about the biggest threat to press freedom since Uncle Adolf started on his European adventures. But at least we have this fine journal which has refused to

Dear Mary

Dear Mary | 21 March 2013

Q. I am the organist at a leading public school. We work hard to ensure that the boys are quiet and respectful in Chapel, which they attend every day. The behaviour of their parents, however, when they come for confirmation and carol services is appalling. They talk through the hymns, they talk through the anthem,


Tanya Gold reviews Attendant, London

I love metaphor, and now metaphor has led me to a toilet near Goodge Street, in that thankless patch of London idiots call No-Ho. Because this is not a toilet any more; it’s an espresso bar that used to be a toilet, and it is called Attendant, and it was in the Daily Mail, because

Mind your language


They were worrying in Canterbury about a clash between the inauguration of the Pope and the enthronisation of the Archbishop of Canterbury. It was a near miss. You might think the word enthronisation sounds like something that George Bush had coined. Yet it has been in use longer than enthronement, which is not known until


Wingless Words

Let us praise poets who are not afraid of Therefore – or of other wingless words that do what they are told, and nothing more. The shiny words fly in with their ideas scattering light, and settle on the hand of these old neighbours, friends from Lexicon Street: their wooden arms hold up such procreant