High life

High life | 24 November 2016

 New York   If only my wordsmith friend Jeremy Clarke had been with me. What fun he’d have had with the ungallant thing I did last week. Jeremy’s writing thrives on such occasions, but alas he’s in the land of cheese and impressionism. I had just finished lunch with my friend Alex Sepkus, a designer

Low life

Low life | 24 November 2016

Six months ago I bought a garden chair on eBay. When I went to the address to pick it up, the bloke drew thoughtfully on his fag and said did I want a child’s folding snooker table, balls, cues and a little brush for a tenner. At the time, my six-year-old grandson was watching a

Real life

Real life | 24 November 2016

A few weeks after switching my iPhone to the EE network, I noticed a funny thing. It hadn’t rung. I checked my voicemail and found heaps of messages from angry people asking why I wouldn’t answer. Was I sick? Was I avoiding them? Had I finally lost all grip on reality and run away to

More from life

My ticket to a £150 rip-off

Last week, my 13-year-old daughter Sasha and her friend Tess were taken by her god-father, Sean, to see Catfish and the Bottlemen at the Wembley Arena. I bought the tickets myself on Viagogo, one of the biggest secondary ticketing websites, and had no reason to think they wouldn’t be valid. As a QPR season-ticket holder,

Long life | 24 November 2016

Do you remember Liberace? Yes, of course you do. Who could forget him? The Wisconsin-born son of a poor Italian immigrant, Liberace turned a natural talent for playing the piano into a vehicle for achieving celebrity and wealth. As a child, he was regarded as something of a musical prodigy, but he wasn’t tempted by

The turf | 24 November 2016

Talking to Paul Nicholls earlier this season, I was shaken to hear the ultra-competitive champion trainer say that he wouldn’t want to be starting again now. If younger trainers are to get to the top they need somewhere they can train a hundred horses from, he said. ‘You need to be in the right place

Wine Club

Wine Club 27 November

We’ve a really strong selection this week from Tanners of Shrewsbury. In fact, I was so impressed that it took a heck of a lot of swilling, swirling and spitting (well, not so much of the latter to be honest) to whittle the wines down to six. Tanners’ Robert Boutflower even put up a deliciously

Spectator Sport

Abandon dope, all ye who enter here

The World Anti-Doping Agency has just called on Russia to confront its wrongdoing and generally shape up. Well, good luck with that boys. The great and good of Wada would be better advised to visit a sharp and troubling new play at the Park Theatre in London. It’s called Deny Deny Deny (standard advice to

Dear Mary

Dear Mary | 24 November 2016

Last week I went for an interview with the Irish Guards. My father and his father were both in this regiment. I put on my smartest suit and grabbed a tie from my dad’s dressing room. The interview went well but when I got home my father was absolutely horrified, exclaiming that I was wearing


Meat and greet

Zelman Meats — catchphrase ‘great meat’ — is sustenance for a hard Brexit — a harder Brexit, if you will. It is a snorting meat shack in north Soho; it is also, comfortingly for the reader, mid-market. It is from the owners of Beast, who display their meat in cases, as trophies — and Burger

Mind your language


There’s something suspicious about the name for a fear of clowns which was on the shortlist of words of the year compiled by Oxford Dictionaries. This phobia, coulrophobia, oddly enough illustrates the meaning of Oxford’s eventual chosen winner: post-truth. Post-truth applies to a circumstance ‘in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion