High life

High life | 27 October 2016

I was not on the winning side of the debate, despite giving it the old college try. Thank god for my South African friend Simon Reader, who coached me just before I went on. Mind you, my side felt a bit like Maxime Weygand, the French general who, in June 1940, was happily smoking his

Low life

Low life | 27 October 2016

There were six of us round the table to celebrate Trafalgar Day. We ate the same dinner served to Her Majesty the Queen aboard HMS Victory for the bicentennial: smoked salmon with two sauces (lumpfish caviar and dill); roast beef on a bed of cabbage with Dauphinoise spuds; and plums poached in red wine. We

Real life

Real life | 27 October 2016

Coffee shops are becoming impossible. I had been standing in the queue at Caffè Nero on Battersea Rise for nearly half an hour behind a man ordering a round of coffees that were so complex, so detailed and intricate, so different from each other, so bespoke and unique, that it would have been quicker to

More from life

Long life | 27 October 2016

I may have made the odd disparaging remark about Brexiteers during the heat of the referendum campaign, but I have been the perfect gentleman since. Although a Remainer, I have accepted the referendum result with good grace and treated the winners with courtesy and respect. I’ve never called them swivel-eyed, or xenophobic, or racist (or

The switchers

‘He’s such a good competitor. He works so hard and he deserves it,’ said his predecessor Lewis Hamilton after Nico Rosberg won this season’s Formula One drivers’ championship. Replied Rosberg,the new champion: ‘He’s a top man and a top driver. He’s like Robocop. I thought I could pull clear of him but he kept coming

In defence of Zac Goldsmith

I’m baffled by the reaction to Zac Goldsmith’s decision to resign as the Conservative MP for Richmond Park. It is being interpreted, even by MPs on his own side, as an act of opportunism, a chance to rehabilitate himself with the metropolitan elite after his bruising defeat in the London mayoral election. Surprisingly few people

Wine Club

Wine Club 29 October

We’re not due a Wine Club offering in the magazine until next week, but so good were the wines that I tasted recently with-FromVineyardsDirect .com that we just had to include them so that readers might join in the fun. It’s an entirely French line-up, ideal for autumn. And despite the plunging pound and the

Spectator Sport

Allardyce’s sacking was not just

The other day Sam Allardyce was photographed with Sir Alex Ferguson at a Manchester United Champions League match at Old Trafford. It was clearly the first step in some sort of Allardyce rehabilitation programme. Now, I was never a great fan of his appointment as England manager: anyone who calls themselves ‘Big’ should probably not

Dear Mary

Dear Mary | 27 October 2016

Q. We hired a villa in the Camargue through the so-called ‘Sloane web’. You either know the uber-Sloane who runs it or you don’t. All his properties are in perfect taste and located in idyllic spots. No one is ripped off. However, we have just returned from a villa whose (Sloane) owner stayed on in


No place like Rome

Roma sells ancient-Roman-style food near Fenchurch Street station at the east end of the City, near Aldgate. It is, therefore, a themed restaurant in a conventional, ebbing financial district, a cursed place in need of Windolene; and this is something to applaud, at least theoretically, because it is ambitious. Who remembers ambition, which is more

Mind your language


I’m very glad I followed a friend’s recommendation to read The Bird of Dawning by John Masefield, an author neglected to the point of disparagement. The vehicle of the book is a tale of seafaring in the 1860s, and one of Masefield’s great strengths is vividness. He deals with material objects in motion. But description