High life

High life | 26 October 2017

I hate to say this, but the quality of life in the Bagel has crashed in a Harvey Weinstein-like way. The city has always had a sort of rollercoaster feel, its ups and downs driven by Wall Street and budget cuts, but its present state is the worst I’ve experienced by far. When I first

Low life

Low life | 26 October 2017

Last May we had dinner with a comic who reads a lot and his wife. At one point, he told Catriona that he had just finished a novel that he had enjoyed more than anything he had read for a very long time and he would like to lend it to her. He disappeared into

Real life

Real life | 26 October 2017

The Albanian builders have started a turf war in my kitchen. The hostilities broke out suddenly. One minute the builders were building and the plumber was plumbing and the next minute the builders were shouting at the plumber and the plumber was looking helplessly at me to intervene, only I couldn’t intervene because a) the

More from life

The turf | 26 October 2017

Racing’s finances depend on as many people as possible betting, so it seemed a touch ironic that Responsible Gambling Awareness Week coincided with Ascot’s glorious British Champions Day, a day that showcased almost everything good the sport has to offer. The Irish genius Aidan O’Brien duly equalled the world record of 25 Group One wins

The tyranny of the bedtime story

All surveys carried out by retail businesses with a view to generating press coverage should be treated with extreme caution, but I cannot resist writing about one that has just been published by The press release is headed ‘The Decline of the Bedtime Story’ and the key finding is that 64 per cent of

Wine Club

Wine Club 28 October

Esme Johnstone, of, has done it again. He’s managed to snaffle some cracking ‘defrocked’ clarets (and one Sauternes) from some of Bordeaux’s finest estates and is offering them here at remarkably keen prices. These wines are from the same vineyards and same winemaking teams that produce the estates’ fabled grands vins (which sadly I’m

Spectator Sport

Death hovers over the scrum

Rugby’s autumn internationals are almost upon us and dark thoughts hover over lovers of the sport. One day soon a professional rugby player will die playing the game. The players are fitter, bigger, stronger, faster and too powerful and it is no longer a 15-man game. It is a 23-man game: more than half the

Dear Mary

Dear Mary | 26 October 2017

Q. What is the etiquette of hospital visiting? A friend in his fifties is about to spend six weeks in a London hospital recovering from a heart operation. He will be in a private room. He is going to be fine but he will feel a bit fragile, so can you advise me how long


The queen of hotels

Jean-Georges at the Connaught — formerly the Prince of Saxe-Coburg Hotel, but it was renamed during the first world war, at about the same time the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha was deprived of his British peerages, which was one of the funnier events in the war — is the informal restaurant at the Connaught

Mind your language

The | 26 October 2017

Veronica, who looks at Twitter, told me of an exchange she thought would interest me, about the use of the. She was right. The is one of my favourite words. The exchange concerned Sam Leith’s splendid new book, Write to the Point: How to be Clear, Correct and Persuasive on the Page. He begins one