High life

Why do monsters make such good writers?

Did any of you know that most of the 20th-century monsters — Stalin, Mao, Hitler, Ceausescu, Duvalier, and even the Ethiopian mini-Napoleon Mengistu — were rather good writers who could form better than average sentences that said that power grows out of the barrel of a gun? I read this in a Big Bagel weekly

Low life

Whisky and striptease: stories from an old people’s home

For the last four years of her long life, this upstairs room and this magnificent sea view belonged to Mrs Lock. Mrs Lock never fully understood why she was living here and I’m not certain she knew who she was either. She had thick, strong legs and was prone to delightful auditory hallucinations, including pealing

Real life

What has Mr Benn got to do with horse insurance?

‘Time to begin your adventure with Mr Benn!’ said the letter that came through my door, in a big loopy red font, beneath a picture of a smiling, waving, bowler-hatted Mr Benn. And this would have been fine had I been a five-year-old whose mother had sent off for a box-set of classic Mr Benn,

No sacred cows

George Orwell would have been a Brexiteer

I’ve been reading a new biography of George Orwell that’s been published to coincide with the 70th anniversary of his death. Many books have been written about him, including at least six biographies, so there isn’t much new to say. Instead, author Richard Bradford focuses on what Orwell would have thought about the contemporary world

Dear Mary


A toast to Roger Scruton

In clubs and other admirable locations throughout the civilised world, glasses have been raised and toasts proposed. But this was not a prelude to drinking-song conviviality. Voices were sombre, eyes misty. Thousands of friends were in stricken mourning, lamenting the passing of a great man: a friend to many, a prophet to many more. Roger

Mind your language

Rebecca Long-Bailey is right: hyphens come and go

When Francis Hurt inherited the Renishaw estate in 1777, he changed his surname to Sitwell. His eight-year-old son and heir Sitwell Hurt thus grew up to be Sir Sitwell Sitwell. ‘Perhaps his hypersensitive descendant should resume the patronymic and call himself Sir Hurt Hurt,’ Evelyn Waugh once remarked of his contemporary Osbert Sitwell. I was

The Wiki Man

The turf