High life

The death of three young people I knew

New York The poet was right: April is the cruellest month. We at The Spectator lost Clarissa Tan, my good friend Bob Geldof’s 25-year-old daughter Peaches died, and my oldest friend from prep school buried his son, one of the greatest athletes of his time, at the age of 42. There is something obscene about

Low life

My VIP drive around Rajasthan

Two years ago, roughly, for a travel piece, I flew to Delhi and took a southbound train to a dusty railway platform in Rajasthan. There I was met by a smiling man with a gold earring who introduced himself as my driver for the week. His name was Babu. I must be a VIP, he

Real life

Wild life

Hunted in Mogadishu by the Sick Man and the Jilbab

From a way off, as he entered the café, he looked young and handsome but when he sat down there was something wrong in that face. He moved like a man with a terminal illness. For no particular reason I decided he was carrying a bomb in his briefcase. I felt the urge to run,

More from life

Yes, Britain is a Christian country

I can’t say it was a great surprise to read a letter from a group of well-known authors, academics, comedians and politicians in the Telegraph earlier this week complaining about David Cameron’s description of Britain as a ‘Christian country’. As a general rule, any acknowledgment of Britain’s Christian heritage has members of the liberal intelligentsia

Dear Mary

Dear Mary: Do I grass on my son’s schoolfriend?

Q. My son was invited, both verbally and via Facebook, to a schoolfriend’s 16th birthday party. However, when I met the girl’s parents at school and thanked them they said, ‘Oh, doesn’t he know he’s been culled?’ They said they had to be away during that exeat, so they’d told the girl to cull the


A toast to Le Roi Jen Quinze

There ought to be a new literary award: the antisocial book of the year. A dozen years ago, Claire Tomalin’s Pepys would have won the laurels by a country mile. That Christmas, everyone seemed to have been given a copy, and normally healthy eaters would arise from the lunch table after only three hours, desperate

Mind your language

Dot Wordsworth: What is an astel?

Dear old Ian Hislop was pottering around North Petherton, Somerset, on television, to talk about the Alfred Jewel, found nearby (where the king burnt the cakes) in 1693 by a labourer digging for peat. Since then, learned men have made foolish pronouncements on the jewel — as in a game of charades when the guesser

The Wiki Man

What do you get if you cross a suitcase with rollerblades?

A 14-year-old at an American school recently caused a stir when he claimed that the US government could save over $400 million annually on the cost of printer ink if the default printer font were switched from Times New Roman to Garamond. Major effects can often be achieved by relatively trivial improvements. One of the