High life

High life | 22 June 2016

I always thought the Freuds a pretty sordid bunch, and after the latest revelations it seems I wasn’t far off. I first met Clement Freud when John Aspinall employed him as an adviser for food and wine. He was lugubrious and aggressive, and none of us punters liked him one bit. He was not a

Low life

Low life | 22 June 2016

Before dashing out of the door and driving to Nice airport, I gave my eyebrows a quick trim with the electric grooming razor Father Christmas gave me. In my tearing haste, however, I forgot to clip on the length regulator and in two sweeps shaved them right off, leaving two bald white strips. I was

Real life

Real life | 22 June 2016

The cottage in Surrey has fallen through, for the time being at least. Maybe I am going to be a country girl again at some point, but for now it’s looking like I will have to remain a while longer in Bal-ham, gazing longingly towards the south. The owners of the cottage in Ripley pulled

More from life

On the money | 22 June 2016

Forced to depart Ascot earlier than usual to fulfil a cruise lecture booking on the fjords, I hadn’t reckoned with June in Norway. It turned out to require anoraks and sweaters rather than shorts and suntan oil, although Mrs Oakley and I were better prepared than one lady passenger: having travelled without a scarf, she

A new home for Old Labour

On the eve of last year’s general election result, many pundits predicted the demise of Britain’s two-party system. The likeliest outcome was another hung parliament in which one of the smaller parties — the Lib Dems or the SNP — held the balance of power. These same pundits pointed to the steady decline in membership of the two

Long life | 22 June 2016

One of my first outings while recovering from a little stroke has been to the New London Theatre in Drury Lane to see the splendid revival of Show Boat, the 1927 musical of Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II. Show Boat not only contains some of Kern’s finest songs (‘Ol’ Man River’ and ‘Can’t Help

Wine Club

Domaine de la Jasse – the Languedoc’s finest

The Languedoc is home to some cracking wines at the moment. And really great value ones too, especially compared to the all-too-often-overpriced wines of Bordeaux, Burgundy and the Rhône. Domaine de la Jasse is one of the region’s leading estates and when we offered some 2012 Domaine de la Jasse ‘Black Label’ Tête de Cuvée

Spectator Sport

Blessed are the goalscorers

‘I am grateful to the gaffer for the opportunity and to God for letting me score,’ said Daniel Sturridge after his last-minute winner for England against Wales in Euro 2016 last week, a goal that certainly made me seriously question the Man Upstairs: I had invested quite heavily in the draw. What an enviable feast

Dear Mary

Your problems solved | 22 June 2016

Q. A friend’s daughter is marrying soon. She and her husband-to-be, both art-lovers, have dispensed with a wedding list, instead asking that each of the 200 guests give something they have made. My husband and I are loath to add to the mountain of garbage the young couple will feel honour-bound to find roomspace for.


West End churls

Cafe Monico, as if named by an illiterate playboy, is on Shaftesbury Avenue between The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time and Les Mis, so if you want to be in an Asperger’s syndrome/-singing French revolutionary restaurant sandwich it is the café for you, and only for you. It is from Soho House,

Mind your language

Eight hard words

I was humiliated in trying to make out the meaning of eight hard words. See how you do: claustration, edulcoration, eidolic, idoneous, infraction, straticulate, tergiversation, velleity. The little list was included in his edition of Fowler’s Modern English Usage by the late R.W. Burchfield in 1996. He made the point that the first four of these