High life

The glory days of Central Park

I celebrate two Easters every year, the Catholic one and the Orthodox one, which means I get very drunk on two successive Sundays. Both days were spent with very good friends, which is a prerequisite at my age when under the influence. The Orthodox Resurrection ceremony at midnight in the cathedral was followed by a

Low life

The call of opium-based analgesics and introspection

On the morning of my last day in England, I drew back a curtain and there in the garden, browsing one of the flower beds, was a brown hare. It hobbled cautiously but not timidly among the spring bulbs, choosing thoughtfully like a discriminating shopper. I leaned on the window sill and watched it for

Real life

An extraordinary fracas at the vet

After rushing our little spaniel to the veterinary hospital on the usual bank holiday emergency basis upon which all animals seem to get sick, we were held up by the most extraordinary fracas. The builder boyfriend carried her in, wrapped in a blanket, and we sat ourselves down anxiously to wait. But in the reception

No sacred cows

There’s no one better than Boris

Eighteen months ago, I wrote a column for this magazine saying I regretted having been such a Boris enthusiast for the past 40 years. As a lockdown sceptic, I was disillusioned by his role in the greatest interference in personal liberty in our history. Where was the mischievous, freedom-loving, Falstaffian character I’d grown to love?

Dear Mary

Dear Mary: How do I get back the book I lent to a friend?

Q. As a publisher, I have been fortunate to discover an unpublished writer who is the author of some truly remarkable poetry. I have made my selection and want to go ahead with his first collection, but my stumbling block is that he is adamant that, along with the remarkable verses, I must include other


A taste of la dolce vita in Tuscany

Amid the grandeur of old Edinburgh, in the lee of the castle, is one of the finest buildings in Scotland: George Heriot’s School. But Heriot’s is more than an architectural gem. It is an epitome of Scotland as it used to be, before the Scottish esprit de corps succumbed to kailyard grievance-mongering under the rule

Mind your language

The wonder of the Metaphor Map

‘What’s that?’ asked my husband, looking at my laptop. ‘Fibonacci fossilised?’ His question made no sense, but I saw what he meant. I was looking at a diagram of ‘the fabulous semantic engine, a sort of virtual sausage machine’ that I mentioned last week. The diagram was circular, like a compass-rose with 37 points. Each


The woman at no. 80

won’t be deterred, though her cough clinks and rattles like a bottle delivery.   The porch covers her; rain and shine she sits cross-legged on the doorstep, not   watching while the street happens, coughing to punctuate life’s sentence.   Somebody should tell her the fifties are over, that no one’s going to photograph her

The Wiki Man

My plan to cut congestions on our roads

Much of the current antipathy towards the car derives from the excessive influence Londoners exert over national debates. London is an outlier in being one of the very few places where you can avoid owning a car, and where cycling or public transport is faster than driving. Indeed a car is less useful in the

The turf

The unacknowledged stars of the jump season

The Irish aren’t just good at winning horse races: they are in the Super League when it comes to celebrating victories. After Shark Hanlon’s Hewick had collected the £90,000 first prize in the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown Park last Saturday, the red-haired trainer said with a twinkle: ‘The plan was to go home this