High life

Low life

Twelve miles of indefatigable misery

The taxi-driver wound his window one third of the way down and put a priestlike, confessional ear to the freezing night air. I spoke the name of my village. Twelve miles. Twenty minutes. Forty quid normally, including tip. A decent fare, considering that the vast majority waiting at this railway-station cab rank require only the

Real life

I’m opening the pony X-Files: mine may be psychic

My ponies may be psychic. I think they are communicating with each other telepathically. And before you call me delusional, let me tell you I have witnesses. It has happened three times now. The first time, I had taken Darcy on her first hack alone without Grace. Normally, a friend and I ride the pair

More from life

The Grand National doesn’t need Jeremy Kyle

Never mind David Cameron. Are you participating in the Great Debate about an event of national significance that stirs the blood of millions? No, I don’t mean the General Election: racing is in a tizzy about who should lead the television coverage of this year’s Grand National since the sainted Clare Balding (whom God preserve)

Page 3 was harmless. Here’s why I’ll miss it

‘I for one would be sorry to see them go,’ wrote George Orwell. ‘They are a sort of saturnalia, a harmless rebellion against virtue.’ He was writing about the seaside postcards of Donald McGill in 1941, but his defence of them and their ‘enthusiastic indecency’ could equally well apply to Page 3. Orwell’s argument was that

Spectator Sport

One-day cricket can make even a turbo-charged century tedious

What a remarkable innings that was in Johannesburg earlier this week when South Africa’s admirable Hashim Amla carried his bat throughout the 50-over match against West Indies for 153 off just 142 balls. Or perhaps you didn’t notice. Coming in at the 39th over after the dismissal of R.R. Rossouw (for a mere 128) was

Dear Mary

Dear Mary: How can I stop friends staying after a 21st?

Q. A neighbour is hosting a party for his daughter’s 21st birthday. Adequate provision has been made for anyone who wants to sleep over but I won’t be taking up the option myself since I don’t drink and I can easily drive home. Unfortunately I am coming under pressure from some acquaintances at university that


Quaglino’s, the vampire brasserie

Quaglino’s is an ancient subterranean brasserie in St James’s, a district clinging to the 18th century with cadaverous fingers. It was founded in 1929 by -Giovanni Quaglino, who once wrote a book called The Complete Hostess; do not buy a haddock that weighs over 2lbs, he counsels, among other things. Quaglino’s is called a ‘grande

Mind your language

Existential threat: the birth of a cliché

In the endless game of word association that governs vocabulary, the current favourite as a partner of existential is threat. They make an odd couple. Max Hastings managed to get them into the Daily Mail the other day, writing that ‘although Islamic fanatics can cause us pain and grief, they pose no existential threat as


The Deer

In the summer fields your life left you. She ran out from under the hood of your heart and tottered across tarmac on clippy-cloppy hoofs like a teenage girl in heels. No time to notice the strange evening light, the sun low down on the green high crops, only time to brake and watch her