Low life

Low life | 29 November 2008

One day last week I woke up slightly bonkers: a stranger to myself. I couldn’t think consecutive thoughts. Even my vision was blurred. I get days like that now and again. Perhaps I’m allergic to something. Downstairs on the kitchen table I found a note I’d written the night before, reminding me to take the

Wild life

Wild life | 29 November 2008

The Kenyan Highlands The Great Depression hit Kenya hard. European settlers were often as poor as the ordinary Africans they were supposed to lord it over. When commodity prices collapsed there was no money at all. My late father remembered how white farmers survived on a diet of zebra biltong and maize meal. They wore

Slow life

Slow life | 29 November 2008

So cold: I tried lighting a fire, but smoke just kept blowing back down the chimney, setting off the fire alarms. It’s a design fault with that fireplace. It happens whenever the wind blows in a certain direction. The architect really messed up there and I cursed him, the idiot, as I rubbed the heat

More from life

The turf | 29 November 2008

Eat your heart out, Stubbs. Wrong century, Sir Alfred Munnings. After Nicky Henderson’s Jack the Giant had won the Carey Group Handicap Steeplechase at Ascot last Saturday and stood in the winner’s enclosure quietly steaming with that unmistakeable gleam of achievement in his eye, his proud trainer revelled in his commanding physicality. ‘Isn’t he just

Status Anxiety | 29 November 2008

Classlessness means your five-year-old chanting ‘sheepshaggers’ on the terraces According to Ferdinand Mount, a revolution has taken place in upper-class manners in recent years. Where it was once socially acceptable to be openly snobbish, drawing attention to telltale signs that a person was ‘not quite our class, dear’ or ‘HMG’ (homemade gent), it is now

Dear Mary

Dear Mary | 29 November 2008

Q. The art and engineering expertise of the modern corsetière has brought great happiness to men of a more traditional, and red-blooded, disposition. To what extent should one be permitted to address admiring glances at a well-presented embonpoint: in other words, at what stage does healthily lustful and artistic appreciation become a leer? And does

Mind your language

Mind your Language

‘What?’ said my husband, coherently, thrashing with his stick at a blackboard on the pavement. It said: ‘Quarter chicken with two regular sides, £5.90.’ This was no geometrical chicken. ‘What?’ said my husband, coherently, thrashing with his stick at a blackboard on the pavement. It said: ‘Quarter chicken with two regular sides, £5.90.’ This was

The Wiki Man

The Wiki Man | 29 November 2008

I am a great fan of Richard Dawkins — the brilliant geneticist Richard Dawkins, that is, not the amateur theologian of the same name. The Selfish Gene and Climbing Mount Improbable are among the most mind-changing books I have read. I can’t say the same of the atheist stuff. Dawkins seems a much better evangelist