High life

High life | 27 April 2017

Twenty-five years ago this week, Los Angeles was burning because of Rodney King’s beating at the hands of the fuzz, and I had my shoulder sliced open by a doctor in order to repair torn ligaments. My shoulder hurt more than Rodney’s ribs. I know that because I saw him, on TV, get up and

Low life

Low life | 27 April 2017

I went to a barbecue. Everyone was patient and well disposed towards the silent, depressed, two-toed sloth in their midst. The eye contact told me that I was included in the conversation but it was also understood that I need not contribute. They comprehended and they sympathised. If I didn’t want to, there was no

Real life

Real life | 27 April 2017

With so many last-straw moments to choose from in my house-moving experience, it is a close call to pick the very, very last. But I think the absolute last straw happened like this. I was sitting in my house surrounded by boxes, pretty much waiting for the removals lorry to turn up. With exchange only

More from life

The turf | 27 April 2017

Any of us can forget little things on leaving home in a hurry. To the chagrin of Mrs Oakley, who might need a pint of milk or a few more tonics on my way home, my mobile phone and I don’t always arrive at the races together. In that regard I have long sympathised with

A progressive alliance? It’s more a coalition of chaos

My heart soared when I first heard the phrase ‘progressive alliance’ in this election campaign. Not the reaction you’d expect, perhaps, but any attempt to persuade people to vote tactically on the eve of a general election is doomed to failure. A complete waste of time. I should know because I tried to get a

Wine Club

Wine Club 29 April

It’s spring and that means it’s time for rosé. Sales of the pink stuff continue to rocket and we’re all out and proud rosé drinkers these days, darling. That’s not to say there aren’t some dire bottles on the shelves. Like that vile Blush Zinfandel from California (shudder) or the weirdly coloured one from the

Spectator Sport

The age of Joshua

Every so often comes a moment that can set the history of sport on a different trajectory. I believe we will witness such a moment on Saturday when Anthony Joshua, of Golders Green no less, fights the veteran Wladimir Klitschko for the Heavy-weight Champ-ionship of the World. At Wembley Stadium, not a Las Vegas car

Dear Mary

Dear Mary | 27 April 2017

Q. New colleagues invited us to lunch but didn’t warn us that the clippings had not been cleared up from a blackthorn hedge that lines their private drive. The next day we had two flat tyres. With established friends we would ring up and give them an earful, but we don’t know how this couple


Fowl play

Cafe Football is in the Westfield shopping centre in Stratford, east London, a shopping centre with a faulty name. It isn’t in the west, and it isn’t in a field. (The original Westfield is in Shepherd’s Bush. That is in the west, but not in a field. It is by the A40 and it is

Mind your language


‘What are you laughing at?’ asked my husband in an accusing tone on Monday morning last week as he unloaded supermarket bottles from a carrier bag into the drinks cabinet near his armchair. The answer was, to my surprise, Woman’s Hour, on which Jane Garvey had entertainingly been discussing names – ‘first names’, mostly, which