High life

Why Spectator readers are the nicest people

Gstaad It feels like a sepia-tinged melodrama, one directed by the great schlock master Sam Wood. Driving along the winding valleys through 17th-century villages, Gruyères Castle on one’s right, the heartbeat would quicken as Gstaad beckoned in the distance. Gstaad in those days meant beautiful women, parties galore, challenging, snow-covered slopes to swish down, and

Low life

The film that shaped my vision of the world

Joyce Marriott of Pyrton, Oxford, has written a letter to the Times on the subject of how a person’s imagination can be unduly influenced by one particular film. The film Old Yeller, she says, had such a powerful effect that for the past 30 years she has devoted her life to animal welfare, dogs particularly.

Real life

Is it possible to have a touch of coronavirus?

Nice of the NHS to send an advisory text about coronavirus, because I was wondering. Is it possible to have a touch of coronavirus? If so, the builder boyfriend and I suspect we may have had it, and fought it off. Out of nowhere, I suddenly felt like I couldn’t get any air into my

Wine Club

Wine Club 29 February

Spring wouldn’t be spring without our annual offer from Chateau Musar, that extraordinary Lebanese winery that is the epitome of triumph over adversity. As readers well know, Auberon Waugh and Simon Hoggart — my late, great predecessors as Custodian of the Corkscrew for The Spectator — were huge fans of Chateau Musar and I, too,

No sacred cows

How far should we go to defend free speech?

This week sees the official launch of the Free Speech Union — an organisation that stands up for the speech rights of its members. It’s my baby, but a number of people have come on board as directors, including Douglas Murray and Professor Nigel Biggar. I’ve also had a lot of help behind the scenes

Spectator Sport

Is it time to consign VAR to Room 101?

Thankfully, Tyson Fury is as good at boxing as he is terrible at singing. But he really should pick on someone his own size: he’s a colossal 6ft 9in tall and 19st 7lb in weight. And he can punch. And he can weave. And he can feint and dip. And he is unbelievably fast. A

Dear Mary


I have always liked angry food: Ugly Butterfly reviewed

Ugly Butterfly is a zero-waste restaurant and champagne bar on the King’s Road, Chelsea. The ‘champagne bar’ addition is so awful as to be pantomime villainous — I think of zero-waste diamonds and zero-waste wars — but perhaps they need this kind of duplicity to seduce the punters, who move so slowly towards wisdom? ‘Zero-waste’

Mind your language

What do elbows have to do with fighting coronavirus?

Before the Covid-19 scare I never thought that one particular Spanish proverb would come in useful. It goes: ‘Los ojos con los codo.’ This hardly seems to make sense, ‘Eyes with the elbows’, but the great 19th-century traveller Richard Ford explains in his Gatherings from Spain that the sun’s glare on the dusty land may