High life

High Life | 31 January 2009

Gstaad A single plug by Sir Roger Moore late last year has turned me into a Papa Hemingway-like literary hero. In his Proust questionnaire in Vanity Fair, Sir Roger was asked to list his favourite writers. Poor little me was mentioned among some good ones and, presto, you’d think I’d written The Catcher in the

Low life

Low Life | 31 January 2009

Three years ago, when I couldn’t put off going to a dentist any longer, and had to make an urgent appointment, I discovered that the closest NHS dentist was in north Devon. I live in south Devon. Devon is a big county. It has more miles of road surface than Belgium. So I was forced

Real life

Real Life | 31 January 2009

As a useful rule of thumb, I tend to think that if Joan Bakewell can’t handle something then I oughtn’t to try. So I’ve given those pay-by-phone parking meters a wide berth since the BBC presenter ended up in court for failing to operate one properly. Last week, however, I found myself in need of

More from life

The Turf | 31 January 2009

Racing isn’t just about speed and style. Sometimes it is all about sheer guts. On trials day at Cheltenham, with the tacky ground sucking the life out of every leg, with every extra pound on a horse’s back feeling double on the lung-busting uphill drive to the post, courage mattered. It was one of those

Status Anxiety | 31 January 2009

An unbiased review of the restaurant owned by my new employer at the Standard It is what is known on Fleet Street as a ‘marmalade dropper’ — a story so surprising that the piece of toast you are eating as you read it falls from your hand. No, I am not talking about the news

Dear Mary

Dear Mary | 31 January 2009

Q. My cousin and her husband recently went to a dinner party. When they compared notes later, it emerged that the husband had seen the cat before dinner with its paw and tongue in the butter dish, which was then placed on the table, and the wife had seen the cat sitting in the bowl

Mind your language

Mind Your Language | 31 January 2009

‘Isn’t there a Barack in the Bible?’ asked my husband, stirring briefly in his chair during a programme about the American president. ‘Isn’t there a Barack in the Bible?’ asked my husband, stirring briefly in his chair during a programme about the American president. That was more than I knew, but he is almost right.

The Wiki Man

The Wiki Man | 31 January 2009

I try hard to like the new, darker James Bond, but I miss the camp insouciance of the earlier films. If you’ve grown up with the type of 007 who briefly interrupts a bout of exotic love-making to sabotage a Russian spyplane with a champagne cork, it’s hard to warm to a character who spends