High life

High life | 25 August 2016

OK sports fans, the Games are over, Uncle Sam and Britain hit pay dirt, and the prettiest girl of the Olympics was Morgan Lake, a black Brit high jumper who wins the High life gold medal for looks and proper demeanour. Here’s a tip for ambitious mothers: take a lesson from Morgan Lake — the

Low life

Low life | 25 August 2016

Next week I’m going to Ladakh for a travel gig. Me neither — never heard of it. So I heaved out my Victorian world atlas and found it at the apex of India, northwest of Kashmir, and sharing a border with Tibet. Then I went online to find books about the place. Choice was limited.

Real life

Real life | 25 August 2016

‘How did I get here?’ I think dazedly. I am sitting in the Big Yellow Self Storage in Balham being interviewed, there is no other word for it. The person interviewing me is a relentlessly cheerful girl who wants to know everything, there is no other word for it, about me before she rents me

Wild life

Wild life | 25 August 2016

Kenya When the late Tom Cholmondeley walked into his cell after being accused of murder in Kenya’s Rift Valley, etched onto the wall were the words Ubaya ya jela ni kishoga — Swahili for ‘the worst of jail is buggery’. During an incarceration of 41 months in Kenya’s Kamiti Maximum Security Prison he endured both

More from life

Long life | 25 August 2016

The 6th Duke of Westminster, who died this month, was living support of the claim that wealth doesn’t make you happy. He was as rich as can be, but said he wished he hadn’t been. The dukedom, and the billions of pounds it brought with it, came to him unexpectedly. He had been brought up

The yawn supremacy

The BBC has published a list of the 100 best films of the 21st century, compiled after consulting academics, cinema curators and critics — and, as you’d expect, it’s almost comically dull. The list contains numerous turgid meditations on the spiritual void at the heart of western civilisation by obscure European ‘auteurs’ and not a

Wine Club

Wine Club 27 August

Summer’s taking its leave and we have a fine Gallic half-dozen from Corney & Barrow with which to enjoy the last of the sun. And to cheer us up, we have a double discount on offer, the initial price-lopping enhanced by the fabled Brett-Smith Indulgence, in which a further £6 is knocked off a case

Dear Mary

Dear Mary | 25 August 2016

  Q. We have been invited to stay with a generous friend in Greece. Now we hear from other (slightly closer) friends that they will be staying very nearby. They have been emailing to say that the two house parties must get together. We know the last thing our host will want is to see


A toast to Provence

Friends have a house in Provence, near the foot of Mont Ventoux. Even in a region so full of charm and grace, it is an exceptional spot. Although nothing visible dates from earlier than the 18th century, the house is in the midst of olive groves and there has been a farm dwelling for centuries.

Mind your language

Pelican pie

Revisers of OED have made a pig’s ear of pelican pie, I fear. I’ve been reading for pleasure Peter Gilliver’s The Making of the Oxford English Dictionary (reviewed last week). I’m up to 1904, when James Murray complains he ‘could have written two books with less labour’ than it took to compile the entries for

The Wiki Man

The internet of stupid things

Back in the 1980s a colleague of mine was paranoid about being burgled. Before he went away on a two-week holiday, he bought the most expensive telephone answering-machine he could find and installed it in plain view on his hall table. Each morning he phoned it from Spain and hung up once he heard the