High life

My night with Rod Liddle

‘I was 12 when I first got laid.’ ‘Where was that?’ ‘In Middlesbrough.’ ‘How the hell did you get lucky at 12 in Middlesbrough, when I only managed it at 15 and on my father’s boat off Cannes in 1952?’ ‘It was a dark and stormy night.’ This was no tortured confession by some doomed

Real life

The wit and wisdom of the horse dentist

The horse dentist put down his medieval-looking implements and pinned me to the spot with a look. ‘Those guys,’ he said, reaching into the yawning jaws of the builder boyfriend’s black and white cob to check the back teeth he had just filed, ‘load horses and take them from England to Ireland and from Ireland

More from life

Cobb salad: a bright idea for summer suppers

They do salads differently in America. Caesar salad, Waldorf salad, even their egg salads and potato salads: they’re big, they’re gutsy and often they’re the main event, not an afterthought shoved to one side. This is never more true than when it comes to the Cobb salad: a riot of colour and instantly recognisable thanks

Wine Club

No sacred cows

How should schools handle ‘furries’?

Last weekend an audio recording emerged of a 13-year-old girl being called ‘despicable’ by her teacher at a school, run by a Church of England trust, in East Sussex for refusing to respect a classmate’s decision to identify as a cat. The teacher told her she would report her to a senior colleague and she

Spectator Sport

Why we all need an Ollie Robinson

It’s a long way from Edgbaston to Karachi, but that’s where my thoughts were turning after Australia’s last-gasp victory in an unbearably tense, always thrilling, wonderful Ashes Test on Tuesday. Ominously for England, Australia’s three best batsmen, and the three best in the world, misfired simultaneously over five days. But they still managed to win.

Dear Mary


Mind your language

How to spot a terf

At dinner the other night I was wedged between two friends of my husband’s, with another facing me. They had made their living as university academics and were, frankly, old men. None of them, I was surprised to find, knew what a terf was, despite its frequent discussion in The Spectator. Feminists of my acquaintance


Away the Land’s Hold

 i.m. Julia Bentham     Thirteen children wheel your bed down the road to the shingly tide-line, the sea’s great oxygen machine. Plugged into a featureless moon it sucks in the pebbles, pauses, exhales, breathes for you, before you set sail. The waves practise their scales, feel for arias between the stones. Thirteen children kneel,

In the Gallery Again

They are happy, the subjects of the pictures,After a fashion. For, however terribleThings may be, and they seem so even there,They have a peace: the magnificent marble,The red bricks’ warmth that the artist captures,The postures of inhabitants who shareThat space will not fold into the rubble,Nor will they suffer horrors other thanThe ones that they


Severed from the rest of what it wasI nab it, pulley-wheel it forty footto the top of the scaffolding. Just after eight,the cars crawling over the flyover,the sun will soon be level with me; here,away from all forgettable activity below,sat on this dry board I settle to my work. What better place to be? What