High life

High Life | 26 July 2008

Corfu The Ionian islands are softer, greener and more feminine than those of the Aegean, and Corfu in particular was used by Homer as the setting of one of the most beautiful episodes of ‘The Odyssey’, the meeting of Odysseus with Nausicaa. For any of you with short memories of the classics, Odysseus was washed

Low life

Low Life | 26 July 2008

Last month I noticed that the only poem I’ve ever written was a suitable candidate for the local literary festival’s poetry competition, whose theme had been announced as ‘landscape as muse’. So I dug it out of the drawer and had another look at it. I thought the poem excellent. One of the competition rules

Wild life

Wild Life

Laikipia With a concussive ‘thunk’, another bird flies against our new farm house on the African plains. This happens a dozen times daily. They must be following flight paths established long before a human home went up. I designed our place to be solid. Construction used up 555 tonnes of sand, 1,476 bags of cement,

Slow life

Slow Life | 26 July 2008

‘Lunch at the Athenaeum!’ I told my mum. No idea what I was talking about. ‘The Athenaeum! It’s a gentleman’s club on Pall Mall. I’ve arrived, mother. Look at me now!’ I’ve been trying to break on to the gentleman’s club scene for a while. I’ve even joined one, a creaking Goliath down by the

More from life

The Turf | 26 July 2008

I once bought a house from a chap who insisted that Shakepeare’s entire output had in fact been penned by Francis Bacon. Be that as it may, Bacon did come up with the odd pithy insight, as when he argued, ‘Wives are young men’s mistresses, companions for middle age and old men’s nurses.’ Lately, I

Status Anxiety | 26 July 2008

Should I have forced myself to accept a diseased prisoner’s licked spoon? Like most Englishman, how well mannered I am depends upon the social status of the person I am interacting with. If he is below me in the pecking order, I am unfailingly polite, bending over backwards to reassure him that I do not

Wine Club

August Spectator Mini-Bar Offer

Simon Hoggart’s latest selection for the month of August People sometimes ask me about those ads you see in magazines and the weekend papers. ‘Get £89.95 worth of wine for just £49.95! Our introductory offer brings you twelve superb wines for barely more than half price…’ How do they do it? Easy. The great majority

Dear Mary

Dear Mary | 26 July 2008

Q. While staying for a weekend in a five-star Umbrian paradise south of Siena, you can imagine my horror when my breakfast partner recoiled at my pulling out my Baedeker on Siena. I always carry Baedeker when centreville-ing, but my companion expressed abject mortification and begged me to put it away. I consider myself to

The Wiki Man

The Wiki Man | 26 July 2008

I am still waiting for an enterprising research company to publish honest readership figures for British news-papers. Not the boring stuff about what we read at the breakfast table or flourish at our desks, a decision driven by badge value. No, what I want to know is which papers people reach for in private when