High life

Prince Andrew and me

No use piling on where Prince Andrew is concerned. It’s a sorry business, and he’s not among the brightest either. Back in the summer of 2007, in St Tropez, I had a boatload of guests and we all went to a party given by the Rubin family in their villa. It was a very gay

Low life

When Brexiter meets Catalexiter

After the hostel breakfast, I stood on the tropical grass lawn smoking the first fag of the day and mulled things over. For the past three days I had been pedalling my electric power-assisted bike up and down Rwanda’s green hills. I was bruised from falls, physically and mentally tired, and prone, as I always

No sacred cows

Panto should be about escapism, not saving the planet

If you were hoping to escape the bilge that’s been pumped out by supposedly neutral organs of the state during this general election campaign — the BBC, schools, the NHS — I don’t recommend going to see a pantomime. Gramsci’s long march through the institutions has finally reached the last redoubt of political incorrectness. Say

Spectator Sport

Why Ben Stokes should win Sports Personality of the Year

Oh those lazy, hazy, Stokesy days of summer: how long ago they seem now. When England won the cricket World Cup — or scraped it anyway — in July, and pulled off the unlikeliest of Ashes Test wins on that blazing Leeds day in August, Ben Stokes loomed as a greater certainty to be the

Dear Mary


Mind your language

Where did ‘decuman’ come from?

‘What made you chase that hare?’ asked my husband with rare geniality. John Ruskin was to blame. He asked James Russell Lowell where he found decuman, meaning ‘big wave’. The line ‘Spume-sliding down the baffled decuman’ came in Lowell’s ‘The Cathedral’ (1870) about Chartres. Lowell was Longfellow’s big-beardy successor as professor of belles-lettres at Harvard.