High life

High life | 25 October 2008

New York ‘Oligarchs brace for a downturn,’ screams a New York business headline, a fact that sends me rushing to buy hankies, now selling at a premium at every corner store. Bloomberg News calculates that the richest 25 Russians on the Forbes list have lost a collective $230 billion since last March. Which means that

Low life

Low life | 25 October 2008

The average age of the residents in our village here on the south Devon coast must be up in the seventies. Every time I answer the door the person standing there is panting and leaning on a stick. There was a murder in the village a couple of years ago. This man battered and stabbed

Real life

Real life | 25 October 2008

With alarming synchronicity, the horse lost a shoe and my computer screen blew up within minutes of each other at the start of my week off. So, for a gruelling 72 hours, I couldn’t ride and I couldn’t write. I could have dealt with either of these two mishaps singly. But together they formed an

Wild life

Wild life | 25 October 2008

Yemen For a fortnight our group has spent nights on the desert beaches east of Aden, looking out to sea. We strain to hear voices above the waves. At dawn the water’s surface is calm and dimpled with shoals of fish. The tide line is scattered with dead puffer fish, plastic rubbish, dolphin skulls. Fat

More from life

Status anxiety

Be careful what you wish for — or, as the old proverb puts it, if God hates you, he grants your deepest wish. All my life I have wanted to be famous and now that I am finally enjoying my 15 minutes I am not sure it is all it is cracked up to be.

Spectator Sport

Spectator sport | 25 October 2008

It’s showbiz As anyone with an unhealthy addiction to Saturday Night Live and presidential debates can tell you, Americans stage a contest like no one else. And that doesn’t just apply to the race for the White House. So if you find yourself in the mood for a slice of Uncle Sam as an election

Dear Mary

Dear Mary | 25 October 2008

Q. May I pass on a tip to readers? Now is the time of year to plant soft fruit bushes. Blackcurrants are a superfood and, if the berries are frozen, a few bushes will provide a whole family’s vitamin C needs throughout the winter of 2009. Think of the savings on supermarket juices. G.W., Wiltshire

Mind your language

Mind your language | 25 October 2008

It is a curious misapprehension of many otherwise intelligent and well-informed people to think that a writer who is the earliest to be quoted in the dictionary as having used a word actually invented it. The lofty Oxonian Geoffrey Madan (1895-1947), who as the son of Bodley’s librarian should have known better, left in his