Charmed life

My night with a murderer

My father met a murderer once; a carrot-topped former chorine called Ann Woodward, who gave her veddy veddy posh husband both barrels after discovering he intended to divorce her for someone more upper-class. She got off after her mother-in-law, Elsie, who preferred a killer in the family to a scandal, bought off the American cops.

Real life

Ireland’s best-kept (and most annoying) secret

Ireland’s best-kept secret is a stretch of toll road through its capital city that was about to ensnare me again. The M50 Dublin toll is located between Junction 6, Blanchardstown, and Junction 7, Lucan. And this is aptly named because the bit where they apparently demand payment is so invisible it is worthy of the name

More from life

The contradictory brilliance of Boston cream pie

They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but perhaps you can teach it old tricks. When I embarked on making a Boston cream pie, I thought I knew it all when it came to sponge cakes. I’d creamed butter and sugar, using elbow grease and a wooden spoon or employing the horsepower

No sacred cows

I’ll never surrender my car

I got a letter this week informing me how much it would cost to renew my car insurance: £2,671.47, up from £1,587.86. It could be worse, I suppose. Owners of Range Rovers tell me that the cost of insuring one in London for a year is about the same as the replacement value of the

Spectator Sport

Where did all the good English football managers go?

It’s not easy for most right–thinking people to care much about golf and golfers apart from gasping in wonder at the size of their bank balances. Right now the Saudi–backed LIV tour and the American and European tours are making occasional grunts of peace towards each other. Soon the various professional golf bodies will have

Dear Mary


‘The interiors are happily insane’: Dear Jackie, reviewed

Dear Jackie is the restaurant in the new hotel Broadwick Soho on Broadwick Street in Soho, which is most famous, if you are an infectious diseases nerd, for being the site of the 1854 cholera outbreak and its cure. Dr John Snow isolated it to the street’s water pump, noted local brewers were immune, and

Mind your language

The normalisation of ‘normalcy’

My husband devotes his decreasing hours of daytime wakefulness to looking at Twitter, as he still calls it. He shouted out, ‘Look at this’, just as I was putting the potatoes in the oven to roast. It was a post criticising the ENO for saying 2021 was ‘a year spent slowly returning to normalcy’. The



(after Rimbaud) Lord, when the meadows are cold, and when in the despondent hamlets all prayer is silent, down on Nature bare and old let them swoop from the skies, those dearest and delightful crows. Strange troops with your cheerless cries, winds assault your nests, it seems! Over winter’s jaundiced streams, lanes with moss-grown calvaries,


Ever wonder why foxes always slip  into poems? Imagine the present moment embodied, coat ablaze as it skips littered bushes and moonlight’s lament  like the burnt shock of iron sediment at a river’s turn, you’ll find its furtive glare soon meets your own. Now it stops, head bent to sniff the rutted earth scattered with