High life

Low life

My night in a room haunted by falling cannonballs

On Saturday night I went to Charlie’s 69th birthday party. What a gaff he’s got. The rather snooty description of the Grade II listing sums the place up as ‘a slightly provincial but nonetheless interesting example of an early to mid 18th-century gentleman’s house which has a remarkably complete interior and has not suffered from

Real life

More from life

Yes, I’m biased – but this was a great Royal Ascot

The one sight I was determined not to miss at Royal Ascot was that of the Queen from over the water coming to claim the hearts of English racegoers. The commanding way in which Treve won the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe last October stamped her as something very special and she should have been

Do people really hate free schools – or do they just hate me?

This isn’t a headline I was expecting to read: ‘Free schools could be a bigger negative for the Tories than Ed Miliband is for Labour.’ Given that Miliband’s net satisfaction ratings are minus 39, that was quite a shock. Do the people who disapprove of free schools really outweigh the people who approve of them

Wine Club

June Wine Club II

It baffles me that German wines are still something of a hard sell in the UK. I imagine that they’re all too readily associated by consumers with that ghastly German export Liebfraumilch, which no self-respecting German will ever have heard of, let alone have drunk. Forgive me if I’m teaching you to suck eggs, but

Spectator Sport

Dear Mary

Dear Mary: How can I evade nosy questions at parties?

Q. How, in a party context, can one avoid answering what used to be called ‘nosey’ questions without being rude? A revered friend counts among his intimates a priest who, when I met him for the first time, took me aside and posed the question, ‘Do you love your husband?’ Clearly the enquiry was benignly


At the Chiltern Firehouse, smugness should be on the menu

Here then is Gatsby’s house, after an invasion by the Daily Mail. It is called the Chiltern Firehouse. It is a restaurant in a newly opened hotel in a Victorian Gothic former fire station in Marylebone, a proud and grimy district in total denial about its shocking levels of air pollution. The building has a

Mind your language

The bloody battle for the name Isis

‘This’ll make you laugh,’ said my husband, looking up from the Daily Telegraph. For once he was right. It was a letter from the Pagan Federation complaining that the acronym Isis ‘is likely to form an inadvertent association in the minds of hearers between Sunni jihadists and followers of the goddess Isis’. These ‘may be