High life

High life | 28 May 2015

An operation on my hand after a karate injury has had me reading more than usual. I even attempted Don DeLillo’s Underworld, but soon gave up. Truman Capote famously said that On the Road was typing, not writing, but old Jack Kerouac was Jane Austen compared with some contemporary novelists. Making it sound easy is

Low life

Low life | 28 May 2015

On 26 June there is a party at the Spectator office at 22 Old Queen Street to launch a paperback collection of Low life columns. If you would like to come, please send an account, in about 800 words, to by 15 June of your worst or funniest debacle when intoxicated. If more than 12 readers send a

Real life

Real life | 28 May 2015

Andy the tech guy looked delighted when I told him I had done the stupidest thing ever. He is one of those whizz kids who hungers for interestingly impossible technological problems. The more obscure the devastation I have wrought to a gadget the better he likes it. He was very excited when I blew the

More from life

Flat pack

Getting to Goodwood last Saturday was an achievement in itself. On the Bank Holiday weekend I calculated a cross-country route from Oxfordshire to avoid the traffic. All went well until my satnav threw a hissy fit at my variations. Its female voice, that of an eager hockey mistress contemplating a career change to dominatrix, instructed

Long life | 28 May 2015

From reading the newspapers you might get the impression that honeybees were on the way to extinction. In Europe, it is said, the number of honeybee colonies has fallen in a few years by a quarter. In the United States, it has halved since the 1940s. Nobody knows exactly why. The experts blame any number

Sturgeon doth protest too much, me thinks

I couldn’t believe it when Nicola Sturgeon called for the resignation of Alistair Carmichael, the former Scottish Secretary, over his role in the leaked memo affair. As readers will recall, the Daily Telegraph published a confidential document during the election campaign that purported to be an account of a conversation between Sturgeon and Sylvie Bermann,

Spectator Sport

Dear Mary

Dear Mary | 28 May 2015

Q. I felt uncomfortable during a dinner for 20 in a private house. The young man on my left had failed to turn to the woman on his left when it was time to do so and instead stared vaguely down the table with his back slightly turned to her. She looked devastated. I wonder


High anxiety

Fenchurch is a restaurant that is scared of terrorists. It cowers at the top of 20 Fenchurch Street, a skyscraper which looks like an enormous and unfashionable Nokia 3120 mobile telephone; has it been designed explicitly to telephone for assistance? But who would it telephone? The Shard? I cannot imagine the Shard doing anything for

Mind your language


Like a reluctantly remembered nightmare, last week’s Eurovision Song Contest already seems very distant. But, in the manner of the Sand people in Star Wars, the nations of Eurovision will no doubt soon be back, and in greater numbers. Disappointingly, with scarcely an alien tongue displayed apart from Montenegrin, the chosen language was poor English.