Jeremy clarke

Veep show: who will Trump pick for his running mate?

47 min listen

This week: Veep show: who will Trump pick for his running mate? Freddy Gray goes through the contenders – and what they say about America (and its most likely next president). ‘Another thought might be buzzing around Trump’s head: he can pick pretty much whoever he wants because really it’s all about him. He might even choose one of his children: Ivanka or Donald Junior. What could sound better than Trump-Trump 2024?’ Freddy joins the podcast. (02:10) Next: Will and Lara take us through some of their favourite pieces from the magazine, including David Shipley’s piece on the issues in the criminal justice system and Patrick Kidd’s article on the C of

Letters: Biden is alienating Britain

Joe Shmoe Sir: Your piece ‘Not so special’ (Leading article, 8 July) was right. Joe Biden doesn’t like us and a brief 45 minutes with Rishi Sunak last week doesn’t change that. In Saudi Arabia last year, Biden compared Israel’s treatment of Palestinians with Britain’s past in Ireland. This was outrageous – what about the US historical treatment of Mexicans, Cubans and Filipinos, and Biden’s friendliness towards IRA terrorists? Britain enjoyed excellent relations with the US under Kennedy, Reagan and Clinton, all of whom had Irish ancestry, and it is self-indulgent and a dereliction for this President to make his chosen personal background an issue, as he does. Britain stood

The BBC and a 21st-century media madness

The story of the famous BBC television presenter who, at the time of writing, has still not been named, has all the elements of 21st-century-media madness – something allegedly sexual which may or not involve a person too young for such things; a desperate hue and cry to see who will dare to name the accused first; anonymous accusers; a clash between strong legal rules about the accused’s anonymity and the strong social media custom of ignoring them; a confusion as to whether the ‘victim’ is a victim or whether he/she even believes he/she is a victim; gabby lawyers; the Sun; an angry mum; a stepfather; ‘fresh allegations’; a ‘concerned’ government

Life with Low Life: my happy years with Jeremy Clarke

‘Am I gonna die today, Treen?’ I kissed his cheek. ‘Darling, your oxygen, blood pressure and pulse are fine and you’re a good colour. Since you woke up you’ve had a poached egg on toast, plain Greek yoghurt with berries, granola and maple syrup, a Snickers bar, a piece of fruit cake, a baked fresh mackerel with tomatoes and a Mini Magnum. It’s two o’clock – if you do die it’ll be from gluttony.’ Jeremy was modest, kind, passionate and loving. He was a great laugh and a terrific dancer. We had a blast This was early May. Jeremy, paralysed from the chest down, was attached to three syringe drivers for

Jeremy Clarke would have felt at home in Pompeii

Classical literature has the reputation of being pretty serious stuff, far removed from the world that Jeremy Clarke inhabited. But he would have felt perfectly at home in Pompeii. Take the conversation decorating the grave monument of the bar-owners Lucius Calidius Eroticus and Fannia Voluptas (beat that, Frankie Howerd!): ‘Innkeeper! The bill!’ ‘You’ve had a sextarius of wine, and bread: one as. Relish, two asses.’ ‘Right.’ ‘The girl, eight asses.’ ‘Right.’ ‘Hay for the mule, two asses.’ ‘That mule – it’ll be the ruin of me.’ Jeremy would also surely have admired the lifestyle and works of the scandalous author Petronius, whom the historian Tacitus described as follows: ‘He slept

Letters: Jeremy Clarke was an example to us all

Goodbye, Jeremy Each week I opened The Spectator at Low Life in part to read that brilliant column and, more recently, to see how Jeremy Clarke was coping with his deteriorating health. Always hoping the column would be there; that he had, despite excruciating pain, penned us another. Like very many of his regular admiring readers, I had found the last two weeks disturbingly sad and last week we learned that he has died and is free at last from his suffering. As an oncologist, during a career treating thousands of patients, at first ones with prostate and other urological cancers, and later ones with breast cancer, I have seen

The reactionary bohemian: Jeremy Clarke was one of a kind

A world without Jeremy Clarke is a glummer place. The author of this magazine’s Low Life column for 23 years, who died on Sunday morning, was a spirited writer of the old school. He loved a rollicking good time, a beautifully turned phrase, a good gossip, casting an observant eye over life’s absurdities, and England. He despised the hypocrisy of the progressive middle classes, big egos and TV boxsets. He had quirkily conservative views, but friends of all classes and races, a deep knowledge of an unusual range of subjects, including rural matters, and a cheerful modesty that belied his talent as a writer. He despised the hypocrisy of the

Goodbye, my dear Low Life colleague

He bore his death sentence more gracefully than most heroes I’ve read about. As the end approached, his columns showed no self-pity or regrets. Meticulous detail was Jeremy’s forte, and atmosphere. Oh, how I envied his ability to convey the mood of a place, the setting that he was writing about. He could replicate a conversation in a pub as if he had recorded it, and it never once sounded made up.  He was the patron saint of the poor but happy. Unlike his predecessor Jeffrey Bernard, who weekly lamented about being broke and ill, Jeremy was the exact opposite, describing his cancer towards the end like a disinterested scientist

High life | 24 November 2016

 New York   If only my wordsmith friend Jeremy Clarke had been with me. What fun he’d have had with the ungallant thing I did last week. Jeremy’s writing thrives on such occasions, but alas he’s in the land of cheese and impressionism. I had just finished lunch with my friend Alex Sepkus, a designer of unique jewellery, and a Catholic priest whose name I will not reveal in view of what followed. After all, the Catholic Church loves sinners, but hooliganism is discouraged. I was walking up Fifth Avenue, which was packed to the gills with shoppers, hawkers and tourists. When I got to 56th Street, it was blocked

Podcast: Jeremy Clarke’s Low Life

When The Spectator ran a readers’ survey to ask your opinion of the magazine, which writers you like and what you’d like to see more of, an overwhelming number of your responses said ‘more Jeremy Clarke’. So here it is: you can now listen to Jeremy read a selection of his columns – from his starting in 2001 – in our podcast, ‘Jeremy Clarke’s Low Life’. To listen and subscribe in iTunes, click here (and please, if you enjoy the podcast, do leave a review). Here’s our RSS feed to subscribe in almost any podcast app. Or listen in your browser on SoundCloud. You can already enjoy Jeremy suffering from pot paranoia, meeting

High life | 24 September 2015

Gstaad Jeremy Clarke has wiped me out again, for a change. His accounts of the high jinks on board the Spectator At the age of 79, I’m seriously contemplating becoming a bird-watcher cruise had the mother of my children laughing out loud, something she’s not known for among those of us who consider laughing loudly a staggering breach of taste. Never mind, Jeremy’s talents and his ability to describe the indescribable in vivid prose is a badly kept secret among those of us who love good writing. The only thing wrong with Jeremy is that he shows me up week in, week out. Being the fall guy does not suit

What really happened on the Spectator cruise

Ok, so first things first. Jeremy Clarke didn’t fall overboard after all. He did, though, dance all night every night (almost), have everyone in stitches and host a rip-roaring High Life vs Low Life pub quiz. He even wore a fez with unexpected aplomb. Taki forwent the delights of his own High Life to join ours. He was exceedingly generous to his dining companions with his wine choices, and had us enthralled with his insider tales of Spectator days gone by and libel actions lost (mainly) and won (occasionally). And as for Martin Vander Weyer, well, he simply charmed the pants off everyone, not only with his self-deprecating wit and

High life | 3 September 2015

 On board MS Queen Victoria   They remain engraved on my brain, like something out of a Greek tragedy, so beautiful, such legends, and then they were gone. I am referring, of course, to those ocean liners of a bygone era, those romantic boats that dreams were made of, a fantasy world of Aubusson carpets and Lalique lamps gone to sea. As an impressionable young boy crossing the ocean with my parents, there were no finer rooms afloat, and every couple dancing at night in the various ballrooms looked like Fred and Ginger — elegant, romantic and as graceful as the ships. The first time I crossed was 1952, on

Diary – 2 July 2015

‘Hello. I’m lesbian threesome,’ the young lady tells Taki. ‘And I’m Mongolian rampage,’ says the young man beside her. We’re at Jeremy Clarke’s book launch in the Spectator’s back garden, to which he invited a dozen Low Life readers chosen for submitting the best stories of drunken debauchery. Some were summarised in Jeremy’s column last week, which made for a marvellous party. Throughout the evening, guests tried to match the face to the story. Which reader was kneecapped by a pimp in Amsterdam? Who was the academic who got into a drunken fight with a janitor over the affections of the chemistry teacher? My favourite exchange of the night: ‘Do

High life | 25 June 2015

Last Wednesday, 24 June, Pugs held a luncheon in honour of our first member to depart for the Elysian Fields, or that large CinemaScope screen up above, Sir Christopher Lee, age 93. Pugs club is now down to 19 members, the ceiling being 21. Our president for life, Nick Scott — I was actually the first chief, but was overthrown in a bloodless, as well as a vote-less, coup by Nick — gave a wonderful address, and we broke our custom concerning the presence of ladies. Our guest of honour was Lady Lee, Christopher’s widow. Now there’s nothing more that a poor little Greek boy can add to Sir Christopher’s

The Fifa case: American justice at work as the world’s CCTV system

‘In matters of criminal justice,’ said NatWest Three defendant David Bermingham after a London court extradited him and his co-defendants to face Enron-related US fraud charges even though nothing they were accused of looked like a crime under UK law, Britain was becoming ‘the 51st state of America’. Many Swiss citizens must have felt they were living in the 52nd when Department of Justice agents decided, as I put it in 2013, to ‘topple a whole bowling alley of gnomes of Zurich’ in an assault on Swiss banking secrecy that forced the closure of the country’s oldest bank, Wegelin. The catalogue of US fines imposed on non-US banks for money-laundering,

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 story, then the senders of the 12 best stories will be invited. The following, for example, is an account of what happened to me only last week. At the literary festival bar I ran into a writer I’d met a couple of times at parties. He was perched at the bar and waved me over,

Low life’s Limpopo legend

‘You’ve got a lot to live up to,’ said the ranger. ‘The last Spectator journalist who stayed here was Jeremy Clarke. He made quite the impression.’ Like some sort of Zulu legend, our ‘Low life’ columnist’s time at Shambala game reserve is now talked about around the campfire — or braai as it is known in South Africa. ‘I heard he commandeered a safari vehicle and set off to find a drinking hole,’ said one of the camp staff. ‘He held a wet T-shirt competition,’ said another. ‘All the local women were very impressed.’ Apparently even Douw Steyn, who owns the reserve, still reminisces about Jeremy’s time there. You might not

Jeremy Clarke’s heartbreak and A.L. Kennedy’s dislike of dates

A.L. Kennedy Novelist I dislike dates. It’s either a yes, or a no. Why date? Sadly, I am both bad at reading the signals which indicate the outbreak of a date and attractive to people who are bad at signals. This means that I end up — often in coffee shops — with a variety of men who suddenly exhibit enthusiasms I cannot return. Among these gentlemen would be the portly chap in Day-Glo cycle shorts, the man who brought an ugly plant with him, the man who cried, the man who talked unendingly about the rows he used to have with his last girlfriend, the man who sat next