High life

We need Voltaire more than ever

New York The high life has gone with the wind because of you know what. The last time I went to a glittering ball, Marie Antoinette still had a head on her shoulders, or so it seems, and sweats and leggings are now ubiquitous at intimate dinner parties. Here in the Bagel fashion has followed

Low life

I have been ambushed by the past

The other week I turned up for the village walking club’s Monday hike. A dawn meet. Two cars. A 90-minute drive and we parked on beaten earth under umbrella pines. The line-up that day was three English, three French. I was the youngest; the others were encumbered by walking poles. We shouldered our day packs

Real life

Wine Club

Wine Club 24 April

We’re so nearly there. This time next month, groups of six will be able to dine the night away indoors and then, just five weeks later, we’ll be free. Hurrah! Happy days are here again, the skies above are clear again, dum-de-dum-dum-dum-dum-dum. I simply cannot wait. I miss my mates, I miss the bottles we

No sacred cows

Am I really paying £3,000 for six days in Wales?

Has it ever been more difficult to plan a family holiday? At the time of writing, it is illegal to travel abroad from the UK for non-work purposes. That restriction is expected to be lifted in due course, although not before 17 May, and replaced by a traffic light system, with countries ranked green, amber

Dear Mary


Wine by the jug in Venetian Venice

We were discussing travel, that forbidden delight now tantalisingly close. Where would be our first destination? Forswearing originality, I chose Venice. Among the world’s greatest paintings, one in particular does not merely come to mind. It fills the mind. I have never been in the Serenissima for the Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin,

Mind your language

What’s so great about ‘super’?

‘Wizard,’ said William. ‘Super,’ said Ginger, in William and the Moon Rocket (1954). More recently we have had Alex Salmond, the leader of the new Alba party (a grand coalition embracing albinos, Albanians, albatrosses and Albigensians) declaring that it can achieve in Scotland ‘a supermajority for independence’. Is a supermajority even a thing? (This form



Ball-bearings, silver, tilted inhis lidless gold tobacco tintip out and strike the garage floorlike props dropped by a conjurorwho scrabbles for them in the darkblackthreaded by the scent of barkto feel, in earth caked on a spade,the soul his careless ghost mislaidslip through cold hands that disinterthe winter bulbs he left for her,while cobwebs, hung

The Wiki Man

Video calls are the new penny post

Dear Sir, I beg to introduce myself to you as a clerk in the Accounts Department of the Port Trust Office at Madras on a salary of only £20 per annum. I am now about 23 years of age. I have had no university education but I have undergone the ordinary school course… I have