High life

Humour failure

The fourth and last time I debated at the Oxford Union was three or four years ago, and it was a total disaster. The motion was that Katrina’s aftermath was Bush’s fault, and I was against it. A quarter of a century before that, Auberon Waugh and I had wiped out the opposition under the

Low life

Untimely ignorance

‘Take a pew,’ said the doctor, scanning my medical notes. ‘Been to Africa and playing the field with the local beauties, have we?’ The tone was brisk, enthusiastic, conspiratorial, perhaps even a bit nostalgic. I nodded dumbly. ‘Right-ho, old man, drop the trousers.’ My underwear was a natty repeated pattern of the international warning symbol

Real life

Absent friends

As I don’t live in what my friends consider to be ‘town’, I don’t get many visitors. My friends who live in ‘town’ protest that they cannot possibly be presumed upon to come as far as Balham. For a long time, I used to mind about this and made all sorts of silly attempts to

Wild life

Bankrupted by paradise

Kiwayu Island, Kenya I came on a holiday to unwind and decompress but I have just been handed the bill and so I think I will have that heart attack after all. We are at Mike’s Camp on the desert island of Kiwayu north of Lamu, my favourite place in the world. This is where

More from life

Spectator Sport

Luck of the Irish

Of all the many incidental pleasures of the Spectator Editors’ Dinner last week, one of the most enjoyable was sharing a main course with Coleraine businessman Ken Belshaw and his wife Iris. Ken, a passionate rugby man, was filling me in on the glories of Irish sport, ironically at exactly the same time as, unknown

Dear Mary

Dear Mary | 28 November 2009

Q. At a recent event a close friend of mine said something deeply hurtful about my wife’s looks to a mutual friend. This took place in front of me. Instead of hitting him I retreated and have been in a seething funk ever since. I can’t tell my wife because his words would hit her

Mind your language

Mind your language | 28 November 2009

Dot’s found a funny thing. Here’s a funny thing. The New Oxford American Dictionary (or Noad, for short) has nominated teabagger as the runner-up for ‘word of the year’. The winning word was unfriend, a piece of jargon used by people who drop so-called friends from popular networking sites such as Facebook. As for teabagger,