High life

High life | 25 April 2019

David Niven’s younger son Jamie, now an old man and a bit overweight, approached my table and announced that he had seen a video of me lunching elsewhere with two friends. He said this in front of the two ladies I was with, one of whom has in the past had issues with my behaviour

Low life

Low life | 25 April 2019

‘How’s your day going?’ said the taxi driver as he snapped his knob into drive. If I caught the plane it would be a miracle. Angry with myself for failing once again adequately to plan a simple journey to Bristol airport, I decided to tell him. ‘Well, my mother is dying of cancer, my brother’s

Real life

Real life | 25 April 2019

‘That’s not the builder boyfriend,’ said the luncheon guest as he eyed the builder boyfriend over the table. ‘Well then, who do you think it is?’ I asked the gentleman, who was sitting next to me with a bemused expression on his face. He had put down his fork and abandoned his fettuccine completely after

More from life

The turf | 25 April 2019

There are people I know who regard racing as a cold-hearted business that exploits animals and achieves little besides putting money into bookmakers’ pockets. Sadly for them they will never ever see the passion, subtlety or teamwork that goes into persuading fragile, sensitive or complicated horses to produce their best; the almost parental pride that

Wine Club

Wine Club 27 April

Something new this week, with our first-ever offer from Naked Wines, the online retailer that’s been much in the (wine) news thanks to the proposed rebranding of Majestic. Majestic — which, along with venerable, old-school merchant Lay & Wheeler, is part of the Rowan Gormley–led Naked Wines stable — will close some of its stores

No sacred cows

Who’s afraid of Jeremy Corbyn?

Until now, I haven’t been too worried about Jeremy Corbyn. True, he exceeded expectations two years ago, but that was because no one thought Labour would win. It was a protest vote, a way for Remainers to signal their disapproval of Theresa May’s approach to Brexit. If the good burghers of Kensington thought there was

Dear Mary

Dear Mary | 25 April 2019

Q. Like many of his profession, Manolo, my most-proficient masseur, has the gift of the gab and maintains a garrulous monologue throughout my weekly session. This would be all right if he did not constantly break off from his pummelling to make a point — or just spout. Often (I’ve checked with his clock) his


Given up hope? Join the club

During the Middle Ages, some of the monastic halls which evolved into Oxbridge colleges allowed their younger inmates to indulge in jocundus honestus after the evening meal. There is nothing monastic about the clubs around St James’s, least of all at their dining tables. But there is still plenty of jocund. Honestus? That is another

Mind your language


Someone on The Kitchen Cabinet remarked that sambusa, as samosa is known in Somalia, came from Arabic. Perhaps it does, for the Hindi samosa, which we have borrowed for the fried triangles, comes from Persian sambose. Loan words weave in and out of the routes of trade and cultural conquest between the Near East and

The Wiki Man

Inaction is often the best course of action

I recently came across the Small Robot Company, a British agricultural robotics start-up. Their vision is that with smart, autonomous mini-tractors, the monoculture which has Mondrianised our landscape could be replaced by something more diverse. Farmers could plant multiple crops in the same fields, and practise new forms of rotation. Such an approach would also