High life

High life | 26 May 2012

On board S/Y Bushido My moment of glory came and went in a jiffy, actually a whole afternoon of filming on board without a single retake, temper tantrum or the expected fight between the star, Alec Baldwin, and yours truly. The name of the movie is Seduced and Abandoned, and it has nothing to do

Low life

Low life | 26 May 2012

After a party the night before, those who had stayed the night were staggering around among the debris in a state of shock and disbelief trying to piece together what had happened. The headline news was that someone had driven his Land-Rover through a fence and abandoned it teetering on the edge of a cliff.

Real life

Real life | 26 May 2012

Eerily enough, I was watching Catch-22 when it happened. We were just about to get to the part where Yossarian learns that the only solution to his problem is made impossible by a circumstance inherent in the problem itself. Suddenly, I keeled over on to my knees. The boyfriend looked at me askance. ‘What? What’s

Wild life

Wild life | 26 May 2012

Juba After an all-night rainstorm in Juba I woke to see the mosquito that bit me in the dark. Now, several days later, a fever returns to me like an old friend met on the road in Africa. Malaria. I can detect the signs without even having a blood test — the suicidal depression, the

More from life

Beyond expectations

When they present themselves there are certain experiences you simply have to undergo to make life complete, like rounding Cape Horn, watching the waters cascade over the Niagara Falls or flying on Concorde (although Mrs Oakley, I felt, rather overdid that last one when it was still possible by dancing that night with the captain

Status Anxiety: Quenching the flame

I was staying with my family in Devon last weekend when my son Ludo spotted that the Olympic Torch Relay was due to pass through Dartmouth on Sunday morning. ‘Can we go, Daddy?’ he asked. ‘Please, please, please?’ Dartmouth was only ten minutes from the cottage we were renting, so it seemed churlish to refuse.

Dear Mary

Dear Mary | 26 May 2012

Q. I give a young guns’ shoot for my childrens’ twentysomething friends every year and make a house party of it— it is an essential part of this very extravagant weekend that guests come to both the shoot and the dinner afterwards. This is fine for those staying; but I have found recently that one


Day of judgment

Why sheep? As a small boy, that thought sometimes occurred to me after a Church of Scotland service. In a Presbyterian dies irae, the Minister would have proclaimed the Son of Man’s intention to divide mankind into sheep and goats on the Day of Judgment. Afterwards, my parents explained that the goats were the bad

Mind your language


‘How do you stand on the the?’ asked my husband. ‘The the?’ ‘Yes, the the.’ We could have gone on all morning, but the phone went, a so-called opinion survey. By the time I had sent them (or him) away with a flea in his ear, my husband had drifted off. The the in question

The Wiki Man

The cover-up instinct

I believe that Lee Harvey Oswald shot JFK. I think the moon landings took place as billed. And Diana’s car crashed into a pillar in the Pont de l’Alma without the assistance of the Duke of Edinburgh. In the last case, I am particularly disinclined to believe in conspiracy theories since, prior to the accident,