High life

High life | 21 July 2016

From my bedroom window I can see a little girl with blonde pigtails riding her bicycle round and round for hours on end. She’s German, looks ten years old and lives nearby. Next month I am finally moving to my new home, a beauty built from scratch amid farmland. Cows, deer, the odd donkey graze

Low life

Low life | 21 July 2016

I sat down at the metal table on the shaded terrace to write a column. In front, ripening vines receding to oak-clad hills; barren mountain tops beyond. To the right, the spacious vista was abruptly curtailed by the diagonal outline of a steep hill of oak and pine which descended to a dried-up river bed

Real life

Real life | 21 July 2016

Market day in Bergerac and the streets are paved with chicken bones. As a spaniel, I am bound to say this is as near to paradise as one can get. From the doorway of every shop there wafts the aroma of happiness. I pull to go inside each doorway as we pass. She pulls me

More from life

Long life | 21 July 2016

One of David Cameron’s last decisions as prime minister was to get the brass doorbell of No. 10 cleaned. I know this from my friend and Northamptonshire neighbour, Kevin, a brilliant plasterer and decorator, who has been working for years on restoring the fabric of the house in Downing Street. Cameron had noted that the

The Brexit effect

Perhaps the most surprising thing about Theresa May’s arrival at No. 10 is that it has given us back a prime minister who has owned a racehorse. Well, part of one anyway. Theresa the Merciless was once in a syndicate at William Muir’s friendly Lambourn yard which owned a grey called Dome Patrol, the winner

The best way to bring back grammar schools

Could grammar schools be about to make a comeback? That Theresa May went to one, and that the number of grammar-school-educated members of the cabinet has increased from three to eight since she took over, has fuelled speculation about a shift in education policy. There are various forms this could take. The least politically difficult

Spectator Sport

Way off track

What’s going on with athletics? Do you know anything that’s happened in the sport this year? Has a sport ever so completely disappeared as ‘track and field’ — and not just because a large part of it has vanished into the maw of state-backed cheating, lying athletes and complicit FSB agents? Have we had the

Dear Mary

Dear Mary | 21 July 2016

Q. Since my husband began to appear in the Rich List he has become much more popular with ‘artists’ in our wider circle and we receive enough private view invitations per year to last us a lifetime. My husband is a kind man and will often buy something he doesn’t particularly want just to be


The naked dinner

Bunyadi caters to folk for whom public nudity is somehow thrilling; I am here because A begged to go and bashed the steering wheel of the Honda Civic with his fist. I am not only nude, which is odd, because being sexually exciting is not my journalistic identity, but, worse, I have accepted a freebie.

Mind your language


What is a bee? ‘A well-known insect,’ says the Oxford English Dictionary, passing the buck rather. Similarly, an ash is a ‘well-known forest tree’, an ass is ‘a well-known quadruped of the horse kind’ and asparagus is ‘a well-known delicacy of the table’ — not caviar, which is ‘eaten as a relish’. Being well-known is an