High life

Take three books

Reading good books is like making love. Reading bad ones is like masturbating. I’ve just read three good ones, one of which got on my nerves because it was about a homosexualist, as opposed to a homosexual. Which in fact was what the other two were about. Now if someone had suggested to me long

Low life

The other club

‘Do you want a dance?’ she said. She stood there smiling at me with her hand held out invitingly. I’d already decided I wasn’t going to get caught up in the dancing. But this woman — well, you should have seen her. She was about 19; as full of health, life and potential fecundity as

Real life

From the horse’s mouth | 30 January 2010

There are many greetings one might grudgingly accept as adequate when one arrives at a hospital emergency department. But a sign saying ‘Helpdesk’ is not one of them. ‘Reception’, ‘Report here’ or even ‘Check-in’ would have been a tolerable overture from King’s College Hospital when I pitched up with my hand crushed and bleeding. But

Wild life

Plague of pachyderms

Laikipia ‘That elephant is almost human,’ my wife Claire said. ‘That,’ I replied, ‘is the problem.’ I called him Stomper. Like people, elephants are sly and voracious. When I bought a farm I became set against elephants. I love big trees. Elephants are to Africa’s fine trees what gales are to England’s oaks. When a

More from life

Dear Mary

Dear Mary | 30 January 2010

Q. A new flatmate at university is very likeable but I get the feeling that she only half listens to what I have to say. When we are chatting at the kitchen table, for example, she interrupts me, often mid-story, to tell a story of her own. This will invariably be very entertaining but it

Mind your language

Mind your language | 30 January 2010

‘Kriek?’ shouted my husband. ‘Kriek?’ shouted my husband. ‘What do you mean, Kriek?’ He was only shouting because he was in the next room and couldn’t be bothered to get up. His question was a good one, for Kriek is one of the latest entries added to the Oxford English Dictionary. It is a far

The Wiki Man

The Wiki Man | 30 January 2010

I’m not frightened of flying. Or spiders. Nor, like one friend of mine, do I have a crippling fear of tomatoes. But I do suffer from mild koumpounophobia — the fear of buttons. I should add that, in my case, it is more a mild distaste than a full-blown phobia. While I wouldn’t care to