Humour

How to make the most of the social opportunities of the polling station

3 June 2017 9:00 am

Q. I am a member of a well-known country house opera society, and I organise annual trips to performances for…

My father, the gun-toting Catholic priest

27 May 2017 9:00 am

This is one of the most remarkable, hilarious, jaw-droppingly candid and affecting memoirs I have read for some time —…

David Sedaris — doyen of deadpan drollery

27 May 2017 9:00 am

The bestselling humourist and New Yorker essayist David Sedaris is renowned for an almost hypnotic deadpan drollery and maybe especially…

Why is turning 40 so traumatic for a single female New Yorker?

6 May 2017 9:00 am

In an early chapter of All Grown Up, the narrator Andrea says to her therapist: ‘Why is being single the…

Fabulous music and the vinyl fanatics

22 April 2017 9:00 am

Every year at this time, as trees come into bud and flowers bloom, middle-aged men (and a few women) sleep…

The chick and the dead: Clare Holman plays the pathologist Dr Laura Hobson in Inspector Morse. Rex images.

The perfect place to fall in love? The mortuary

22 April 2017 9:00 am

I grew up with a skeleton in the attic. My mother’s clinical training bestowed on our family a short man’s…

Was A.A. Gill just an outrageous show pony?

25 February 2017 9:00 am

When A.A. Gill died last December, there was wailing and gnashing of teeth across the nation. I must admit this…

Michael Chabon’s ‘faux-memoir novel’ is a simple song about love

11 February 2017 9:00 am

Michael Chabon’s back. He’d never gone away, of course — more than a dozen books in all — but it’s…

Dear Mary: how should you deal with having your face flecked with spittle?

21 January 2017 9:00 am

Q. At a drinks party at Christie’s this evening my face was splattered with flecks of spit from the guest…

Diane Williams’s surreal parables are an acquired taste — and one well worth acquiring

12 November 2016 9:00 am

There is a common assumption that experimental writing — for want of a better term — is obscure, joyless and…

Being adored by Middle England as cosy and harmless drives Alan Bennett mad

Alan Bennett: one of the sharpest, funniest writers in the English language

15 October 2016 9:00 am

Robert Douglas-Fairhurst reveals that, far from being a cuddly, mild-mannered teddy bear, our national treasure has sharp claws — and a gimlet eye

Dear Mary: How can we stop people giving us wedding presents we don’t need?

20 August 2016 9:00 am

Q. My partner and I have been living together for 26 years, but now that he’s asked me to marry…

Dear Mary: On being an unappreciated patron of the arts

23 July 2016 9:00 am

Q. Since my husband began to appear in the Rich List he has become much more popular with ‘artists’ in…

Dear Mary: Is it naff to circulate an advance list of dinner-party guests?

11 June 2016 9:00 am

Q. When going out to dinner I’ve found some people will send everyone a list of the other guests so…

How a grumpy llama became the third person in our relationship

14 May 2016 9:00 am

Gussie is the name of a grumpy and ill-natured llama, her coat largely white and somewhat unkempt, and much given…

Dear Mary: My doctor keeps asking me for advice on selling furniture

7 May 2016 9:00 am

Q. I know it’s a gaffe to ask a doctor for medical advice at a party, but what is the…

From Jekyll back to Hyde: the changing face of Begbie

23 April 2016 9:00 am

Irvine Welsh’s 1993 debut novel Train-spotting flicked a hearty V-sign in the face of alarm-clock Britain. ‘Ah choose no tae…

Dear Mary: My husband leaves all cupboards and drawers open

5 March 2016 9:00 am

Q. Re. your letter from F.C. about the boyfriend leaving lids off (20 February), I have a similar problem. My husband…

Dear Mary: new neighbours want me to provide a ready-made social scene

27 February 2016 9:00 am

Q. Former colleagues, with whom I got on very well in the context of the office, are buying a house…

Dear Mary: How can I teach my boyfriend to put the lids back on?

20 February 2016 9:00 am

Q. I love my boyfriend but he has a terrible habit I was unaware of before he moved in. If…

Dear Mary: Our granddaughters are giving money away to a cause we do not support. Should we cut off their funding?

23 January 2016 9:00 am

Q. We have two granddaughters working hard and happily at university. It is our pleasure to give them some cash…

Dear Mary: What do you do when too many people accept a party invitation?

16 January 2016 9:00 am

Q. What can be done when more people than you can cater for accept an invitation? We are giving a…

Dear Mary: On a troublesome festive invitation

2 January 2016 9:00 am

I have been alone in the country this festive season as my adult children and most of my friends are…

‘Second Empire Renaissance’ (from Pillar to Post). ‘Its most notable feature was the mansard roof. However suitable this device may be on top of the Louvre, it altogether fails to produce an effect of inevitable rightness amid the less exalted surroundings of Victoria Station.’

Osbert Lancaster: a national treasure rediscovered

12 December 2015 9:00 am

True to his saw that ours is ‘a land of rugged individualists’, Osbert Lancaster, in his self-appointed role of popular…

Dear Mary: How to stop someone from giving my tiny children expensive clothes that they never wear?

5 December 2015 9:00 am

Q. Is there a tactful way to deter certain people from buying clothing for one’s tiny children as Christmas presents?…