High life

High life | 22 February 2018

Gstaad It was nostalgia time at Prince Victor Emmanuel’s birthday party here, with many old friends reminiscing about our youthful shenanigans in times gone by. Victor, the pretender to the Italian throne, and I go back a long way — more than 60 years. In a very roundabout manner, so do our families. His namesake

Low life

Low life | 22 February 2018

My hangover was what the great Kingsley Amis describes in his Everyday Drinking guide as a ‘metaphysical’ hangover. Apart from the usual feeling of being unwell, stealing over me was that ‘ineffable compound of depression, sadness (these two are not the same), anxiety, self-hatred, sense of failure and fear for the future’. Amis’s remedy was

Real life

Real life | 22 February 2018

Everything since the ZX Spectrum has pretty much left me cold. Ghetto blasters, Sony Walkmans, CDs, Apple Macs, iPods, PlayStations… I didn’t want any of them. Back in 1981, I did want a CB radio and I nearly got one too, but then my mother found out that lorry drivers were on them and the

Wine Club

Stop flattering Corbynistas

Dear right-wing people, please stop the red scares. Please give the Cold War lingo a rest. Please remember it is not the 1950s anymore and that there’s about as much chance of Kevin Spacey taking the title role in a biopic of Jesus Christ as there is of Commies coming to power in Britain. Please

The Kushner question

‘If Mueller was looking at your finances and your family finances, unrelated to Russia — is that a red line?’ Trump: ‘I would say yeah. I would say yes. By the way, I would say, I don’t — I don’t — I mean, it’s possible there’s a condo or something, so, you know, I sell

The golden girl of the French right

The news that Marion Maréchal-Le Pen will share a stage this week with US conservatives, addressing the annual Conservative Political Action Conference event shortly after vice-president Mike Pence, has caused much excitement within the French right. The 28-year-old Maréchal-Le Pen, niece of Marine, the leader of the National Front, withdrew from political life in June

A chilling warning from Corbyn

What a convenient inconvenience the row about Jeremy Corbyn’s links with a Czechoslovakian agent is for the Labour leader. While the allegations that he was an informant during the Cold War may well be the ‘nonsense’ that he claims they are (they certainly don’t seem to correlate with anything released at the end of that

Is it really homophobic to ask whether two men can make a baby?

When I saw the photo of Tom Daley and Dustin Lance Black holding a photo of an ultrasound, and all the subsequent headlines proclaiming ‘Tom and Lance are having a baby’ I thought one thing above all: ‘That’s strange’. Not ‘eww’, or ‘gross’, or ‘what a way to get over certain negative recent publicity’, but

No sacred cows

My BMI calculator has me inching towards despair

I’ve become obsessed with my BMI. For those of you who don’t know, it stands for body mass index and is supposed to be a more reliable way of assessing whether you’re a healthy size than weighing yourself. It’s calculated by dividing your weight by the square of your height and is expressed as kg/m².

Spectator Sport

Look, I just love the Winter Olympics

Despite the best efforts of this column (and the BBC), too many Brits regard the Winter Olympics with the same enthusiasm as they would a traction engine rally or a village fête. Well you are so wrong, people. Admittedly you can get fed up with the BBC TV breakfast presenters nattering away about how they

Dear Mary

Dear Mary | 22 February 2018

Q. Obviously one is delighted to have visits from close friends and family when one’s spouse is ailing, but how does one politely deter those in what might be called the second division who, mindful of the Bible’s teaching, are intent on visiting the sick, when the sick and his wife would rather be left


Poor cows

Sophie’s lives in an old pornographic cinema at the south end of Great Windmill Street, Soho. It is opposite McDonald’s and the Windmill International (‘Probably the most exciting mens club in the world [if you don’t mind paying women to expose their breasts when they might do it for nothing if you were charming]’). Is

Mind your language

Borislike allusions

In Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves, Bertie is moved to reward his inestimable valet for solving the unsolvable. Before requesting the sacrifice of the Alpine hat that Bertie had recently been sporting, ‘he coughed that sheep-like cough of his’. And there it was in the Foreign Secretary’s speech last week. EU integration deepened, he said, ‘in