High life

High Life | 24 October 2009

New York Something’s bothering me about the Polanski business. No, unlike Harvey Weinstein and Bernard-Henri Lévy — not to mention that Mitterrand paedophile — I will not defend Roman’s actions with a 13-year-old, but I will say that, with friends like his making fools of themselves defending him, it will be a miracle if he

Real life

Real Life | 24 October 2009

You couldn’t make it up If I’m ever stuck for a plot for a dark and twisted dystopian sci-fi novel I must remember to open my front door and start a conversation with a traffic warden. You are always guaranteed a richly surreal and deeply macabre experience when you engage with the bizarre regime of

Wild life

Wild Life | 24 October 2009

Kuala Lumpur I dropped into Malaysia armed with F. Spencer Chapman’s anti-Japanese guerrilla war memoir The Jungle is Neutral and took his words to heart. ‘It is the attitude of mind that determines whether you go under or survive. There is nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so.’ Chapman survived the jungle’s ‘green

More from life

The Turf | 24 October 2009

It takes a lot to keep me away from Newmarket’s Champions’ Day meeting but the prospect of an hour on stage at Cheltenham’s Literary Festival with Ruby Walsh and Paul Nicholls talking about Paul’s autobiography Lucky Break (Orion, £20) was lure enough. The champion trainer’s careers master might have been surprised to find the ever-reluctant

Status Anxiety | 24 October 2009

As luck would have it, the opening gala of the London Film Festival usually coincides with my birthday, and this year was no exception. My wife and I put on our best evening clothes and set off on what promised to be a great night out: a movie premiere at the Odeon Leicester Square followed

Dear Mary

Dear Mary | 24 October 2009

Q. The other night I met someone with whom I got on really well. Yet because I am a young journalist and she is an editor, I did not email her the next day, in the normal way, to say, ‘Let’s keep in touch’. I thought it might seem pushy and as though I was

Mind your language

Mind your language | 24 October 2009

Why are Cheshire cats said to grin? The question was posed in 1850 in Notes and Queries, the Victorian periodical that operated on the same principle as Wikipedia, through readers’ contributions. Why are Cheshire cats said to grin? The question was posed in 1850 in Notes and Queries, the Victorian periodical that operated on the

The Wiki Man

The Wiki Man | 24 October 2009

Judging by my fellow passengers on trains or planes, I am in a minority in being more addicted to words than music. While perfectly fond of music, on long journeys I am slightly unnerved by the many people in headphones who can sit for three hours at a stretch staring vacantly into space. I could