High life

High Life | 27 June 2009

Rolling though picture-perfect hills and fields of maize and barley towards Wembury House, Devon, for the annual Hanbury cricket match. At times it’s a scene from a Fifties film of a long-ago England, beautiful, tranquil and law-abiding, with glimpses of broad greens, riverside walks and winding country lanes. But then comes the announcement in an

Low life

Low Life | 27 June 2009

I was in the Groucho Club swapping self-satisfied greetings with leading hacks when the urge for nicotine became insistent and I stepped outside for a fag. The door hadn’t stopped swinging behind me when I was pounced on by a range of even more heartless, shameless characters. They were literally queuing to con cash out

Wild life

Wild Life | 27 June 2009

Kenya While staying recently on a lonely farm in the Highveld east of Johannesburg, I met a grey parrot that could sing ‘Die Stem’, South Africa’s apartheid-era national anthem. That bird was certainly out of step with the times. We all know that after Mandela’s 1994 election the rainbow nation switched to ‘Nkosi sikelel’ iAfrika’.

Slow life

Slow Life | 27 June 2009

Doing what I’m told ‘Do you still do music at all?’ she asked. I think I’ve told you before. That is a musician’s least favourite question. Normally my heart sinks when I get prodded with that one. All musicians still make music, of course they do, and it’s soul-destroying to be reminded that no one

More from life

Status Anxiety | 27 June 2009

By my epic standards, this was an extremely polite best man’s speech It never ceases to amaze me that I am still asked to speak in public. If I am not the worst orator of my generation, I must be a close second. The last time I performed an after-dinner speaking gig was in Bath

Spectator Sport

Spectator Sport | 27 June 2009

In just over a week, on the day of the Wimbledon ladies final, or if you prefer, which I do, the third test between the Lions and the Springboks in Johannesburg, 180-odd riders in the heart of Monaco will set off at intervals for the opening time-trial stage of the Tour de France. It will

Dear Mary

Dear Mary | 27 June 2009

Q. Recently I was asked by friends to take a visitor from Germany on a game drive in the Chobe National Park. Unfortunately the visitor had unwisely lunched on some elephant meat from a recent cull and vomited in my new Range Rover, thus bringing the safari to an abrupt end for all concerned.   

Mind your language

Mind Your Language | 27 June 2009

The Queen has had a vegetable garden laid out behind Buckingham Palace. ‘No chemicals are used and the plot is irrigated from the palace borehole,’ reported the Sunday Times. This use of chemicals annoys some people, mostly chemists. By chemists, of course, I do not mean pharmacists, whom I normally do call chemists, to their