High life

High life | 25 January 2018

Before his untimely death last year, David Tang had attended a Pug’s club luncheon with the proviso that no one ask him how he felt. So all 20 of us asked him in unison, ‘How do you feel?’ He burst out laughing. Sir David — he threw a riotous party at the Dorchester to celebrate

Low life

Low life | 25 January 2018

‘ESTA refused,’ said the email from the official website of the US Department of Homeland Security. Franklin Roosevelt once said that the saving grace of America lies in the fact that the overwhelming majority of Americans are possessed of two great qualities — a sense of humour and a sense of proportion. This refusal, presumably

Real life

Real life | 25 January 2018

The vet who is unhappy that I cracked a joke about vets has received the backing of the British Veterinary Association. This strangely brittle organisation, having nothing better to do, apparently, has put out a fantastically pious statement denouncing me for daring to joke that vets are expensive and that some seem keen to diagnose

No sacred cows

Toby Young: Unmanned by a brute in bright pink

As regular readers will know, Caroline has developed a fanatical interest in tennis and is currently captain of the ladies second team at the local sports club. I have written before about how her new-found passion has turned me into a tennis widower — she is out two or three nights a week during the

Spectator Sport

Don’t knock our fearless Fridge Kids

At this time of the year, well-meaning folk of otherwise sound mind start to get very sniffy about the impending Winter Olympics. Well, time to pipe down. Sure, we don’t have that many mountains, and we don’t have a great tradition of professional downhill racing (though we have some brilliant amateurs — after all we

Dear Mary

Dear Mary | 25 January 2018

Q. Several friends have reached an age and wealth that means they take unreasonably long holidays or even entire gap years. I enjoy being in regular touch with them when they are at home and am sad they will be away for so long. But should one stay in touch? And how, without the intrusive


Theatrical dining

There is a restaurant on the stage at the National Theatre in London. It is called Foodwork, and it is part of the set of Network, an adaptation of Paddy Chayefsky’s 1976 masterpiece about a news anchorman called Howard Beale who goes mad and is given a new show — The Howard Beale Show —

Mind your language

Ministerial code

Ministers must observe the rather curious ‘Seven Principles of Public Life’ in the new Ministerial Code published this month by the Cabinet Office. I call them curious not because they echo the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit (wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord), but because they seem inconsistent with