High life

The art of Dolly Parton’s bra

New York I hope this is my last week in the Bagel. I plan to fly first to Switzerland and then on to London. There’s the annual Pugs Club lunch I cannot afford to miss, but now that Boris is married I don’t suppose he gives a damn about the poor little Greek boy and

Real life


Drip, squelch, ooze, a subdued pitter-patter, a background hum that is scarcely there. Mostly silence. Faint creaking. Drip, drip: a twig bows to release a flop of snow. The clothes-line is hung with shapeless rags of ice, on the verge of transforming into aerial sheets of water. What do they taste like? Like nothing at

I’m gypsy and proud

Exciting news from my father’s cousin in Canada. ‘You asked about our grandfather, there is much to tell,’ he writes. ‘You may be surprised to know that George’s mother was a gypsy. So it seems that we have some gypsy blood coursing through our veins.’ As I read the email, which my father had forwarded

Wine Club

Wine Club 26 June

Robin Yapp, the dentist-turned-wine merchant who founded Yapp Bros in 1969, used to scare the pants off my poor father on forays to France. A somewhat insouciant driver, Robin would belt along in his ancient right-hand-drive estate car, foot to the floor, with his mind on other things. Every now and then, mid-anecdote, he would

No sacred cows

What would ‘sensitivity readers’ have made of my student scoops?

‘Whatever you do, don’t call them snowflakes,’ Caroline said the last time I spoke to Oxford students. ‘That’s not a grown-up way of conducting a political debate. It’s like calling you a gammon.’ She’s right, of course, but by God they make it hard. This week we learned that the Oxford University students’ union is

Spectator Sport

Forget football – rugby is the real beautiful game

The question is surely destined to become a pub quiz staple: ‘Who moved a bottle 18 inches across a table and was said by the media to have wiped millions from the share price of a major corporation?’ Cristiano Ronaldo’s casual dismissal of a product-placed bottle of Coca-Cola — and Paul Pogba’s subsequent pushing aside

Dear Mary

Dear Mary: How do we stop our friends’ dogs wrecking our house?

Q. We have old friends who live in the northern hinterlands and have a property in Provence where they normally spend each summer. On their journey down through England they make a stopover with us. We’re always pleased to have them, but not their ill-trained dogs, which always cause some damage. Since our friends couldn’t


Harry Potter meets Ikea: Backlot Cafe reviewed

Harry Potter is a fictional orphan locked in a cupboard by his aunt and uncle, after which he discovers a magical world and a better class of nemesis than his ugly suburban relatives. It seethes with class. The Dursleys are lower-middle-class, golf-club-haunting gammons. I suspect their MP is Dominic Raab, and I suspect they vote

Mind your language

The turf

The rise of older jockeys

There are many facets to Royal Ascot’s appeal. For some it is glamour, style and opulence. For some it is the betting opportunities afforded by large fields, for others an opportunity to pay tribute to a revered monarch and to share her obvious pleasure in its equine stars. What I love is the sheer intensity