High life

High life | 25 February 2016

One reason I do not tweet, text, use Facebook or Instagram, and only wield a mobile when a landline is unavailable, is that all of the above gadgets are free of anything that resembles a credible spoken word emanating from a disease-free brain. The mind-numbing gobbledygook that billions send back and forth constitutes a sort

Low life

Low life | 25 February 2016

I was diagnosed with prostate cancer with metastases in April 2013. It was a bit of a shock, but when the shock subsided I found I was happier than I had been for as long as I could remember. Every man in his best state is altogether vanity, says the Bible. With the dictator vanity

Real life

Real life | 25 February 2016

The last time I bought a set of tyres in south London I came away not quite knowing whether I had just been asked to become a jihadi bride. Of course, it was only the merest suspicion. If I had had hard evidence I might have gone to the police. Or I might not. These

More from life

Long life | 25 February 2016

There are still four months to go before the vote, but I already feel quite exhausted by the Europe referendum campaign. Such has been the excitement in the British press that I have taken to starting the day by reading the New York Times online, which is so uninterested in this historic matter that it

Vote ‘leave’ and stop the blurring of Britain

I don’t remember the last European referendum being nearly as dramatic as the current one. In 1975, we were being asked about our membership of the Common Market, not the -European Union, so there was less at stake — at any rate, that’s what the inners -wanted us to believe. The battle was also much

Dear Mary

Your problems solved | 25 February 2016

Q. Former colleagues, with whom I got on very well in the context of the office, are buying a house near my own and say they are depending on me and my husband to introduce them to ‘all’ our friends in this area. This has been giving me nightmares. Like us, our friends down here


The grim irony of Walsingham

As you came from the Holy land Of Walsingham Met you not with my true love By the way as you came? The Walsingham poem used to be attributed to Walter Raleigh, which must be an error. ‘True love’ had a different meaning in his gallantries, most famously when he pleasured a maid of honour

Mind your language

Special status

‘Special status?’ said my husband. ‘You mean like executioners, butchers and undertakers in Japan?’ I hadn’t suggested that, but had been thinking aloud about the phrase which, according to David Cameron, now describes Britain’s position in Europe: special status. My husband once went to Japan, which, he thinks, makes him an expert. He learnt about

The Wiki Man

The 5 per cent of people who get to decide everything

What happens when 95 per cent of people like something, but 5 per cent of people prefer something else? You might think natural democracy would prevail: that the 5 per cent would acquiesce and go along with the taste of the majority. Not necessarily. In many cultural settings, it is common for a small, intransigent minority to beat