High life

High life | 25 February 2012

Who is worse, the pusher or the addict? I’d say it’s 50–50 as they sustain each other, although the addict has the moral high ground. Greece is the addict, and the pushers are German and French banks, with Brussels the overall godfather shipping the stuff in from Afghanistan. The godfather is not the cuddly type

Low life

Low life | 25 February 2012

On Valentine’s Day I took a young lady out on a date. She was so young that the forms of address that she used in the brief flurry of emails leading up to the big day were entirely new to me and I had to Google them to find out what she meant. She called

Real life

Real life | 25 February 2012

We few, we happy few. South London-based working cocker spaniel owners, I mean. We meet up on Tooting Common most days to exchange tips for cocker crisis management. The dogs play together as we have our group therapy sessions. Cydney’s best friends are Betsy and Mable, both black with white bibs like her, and then

Wild life

Wild life | 25 February 2012

Kenya   At Nairobi’s Muthaiga Club this week I bumped into Stanley Johnson, author of the superb memoir Stanley, I Presume and father of Britain’s future prime minister. Mr Johnson and I have an English education in common. Apart from Oxford and Sherborne, we attended the prep school Ravenswood, on the edge of Exmoor. ‘On

More from life

Spectator Sport

Spectator Sport: Glove story

My foul-mouthed friend Claudine had it about right after seeing Michael ‘full-­frontal’ Fassbender’s latest sex-and-angst gloomathon, Shame. ‘I didn’t know where to look,’ she said, ‘when Carey Mulligan started singing.’ And anybody who’s spent any time caring about Arsenal these past few years won’t have known where to look as the team was pulled apart

Dear Mary

Dear Mary | 25 February 2012

Q. How, without causing offence, can you stop someone sitting next to you on an aeroplane or train from talking to you all the way through the journey? I find this often happens to me, and once you engage it is hard to bring the conversation to a close. I count on these journeys as


Food: Conference call

The Grand Hotel, Brighton, is the most beautiful hotel in England. It is bright and shiny like Simon Cowell’s teeth, surrounded by something very ugly, like Simon Cowell’s face. It even managed to look beautiful when the IRA blew a cartoon hole in it, from which Margaret Thatcher emerged covered in dust and more dangerous

Mind your language


English teachers are often remembered for two reasons. I don’t know which is more damaging. The first is for having made a pupil think she was writing well. The second is for having inculcated a few arbitrary rules, such as not to split an infinitive or to end a sentence with a preposition, thus enabling