High life

How tennis went socialist

Desperately boring times but very healthy ones. No parties, no girls, not too much boozing, lots of smoking and reading very late into the night. And non-stop training and sport. What else can one do when locked in with one’s wife and one’s son and with nostalgic thoughts of a time when people gathered in

Low life

I am socially isolating in a cave in France

This Provençal village clusters around the base of a cliff 300 feet high and a kilometre wide surmounted by two crumbling look-out towers. The cliff is riddled with dry caves, used since time immemorial by troglodytes and fugitives. In the early 19th century a section of the rock face was walled and the caves used

Real life

How I fought the urge to panic-buy – and won

‘Get me Heygates on the phone! I need that order of pony nuts now, damn it!’ It was like a scene from a disaster movie, only at the country store. The owner’s son was yelling at staff. The car park was a seething mass of battered 4x4s. Men with walkie-talkies were corralling the panicking horse

No sacred cows

How Oxford taught the no-platformers a lesson

Three weeks ago Amber Rudd travelled to Christ Church, Oxford, to speak to students about her experiences of being a female politician. She was there at the invitation of the UNWomen Oxford UK society, which had organised a number of events in the run-up to International Women’s Day on 8 March. But half an hour

Dear Mary


Dining in the time of pandemic: takeaways reviewed

I love eating while watching bad films like Battleship, so I love takeaway food from local restaurants. I am not rich enough to like the idea of takeaway from Simpson’s in the Strand and a plastic lid does not have the drama of a silver-plated dome. But eating takeaway food while watching Battleship is not

Mind your language

How ‘barley’ cropped up

‘Why can’t you write about something wholesome?’ asked my husband, in a flanking move. He was in a bad mood because his offer to come out of retirement to save the NHS had not so much been rebuffed as received with uneasy amusement. It so happened that I had been rereading something that might fit

The Wiki Man