The nature of luck

I was walking across a fallow field to the pub with my two grandsons. ‘What’s this?’ said my 11-year-old Oscar, showing me a bone he’d noticed embedded in the footpath and prised out. I rubbed the mud off the delicate, strangely beautiful thing with my thumb. ‘That,’ I said, with more authority than knowledge, ‘is the shoulder blade of a hare. I’ll clean it up when we get back and if you keep it in your pocket it’ll bring you good luck.’ ‘What is luck?’ said Klynton, aged ten. ‘Hard to explain,’ I said. ‘Lucky people have mostly good things happen to them; unlucky people mostly bad. But nobody believes

Just another mad night out at the local bad-food gastropub

We were enjoying our evening at the overpriced gastropub until a woman in a dark uniform appeared at our table. She didn’t introduce herself or explain why she was there, and the first thought that entered my head was that we were being arrested. It was partly that the woman was extremely well built and wearing a navy gabardine jacket and trousers. But it was also because we were with Anthony. I looked across at the builder boyfriend’s wayward friend, a tanned, blond, spiky-haired estate agent who is a dead ringer for Shane Warne. He was spooning French onion soup into his mouth in between downing vodka shots and I

The virtual pub: how to share a digital pint with your friends

The coronavirus lockdown means we’re under strict orders from the Prime Minister not to head down to our local for a pint and to avoid social get togethers wherever possible. So why not start a new trend and share a digital drink with your friends? Here’s how to pull it off: 1. Get online Google Hangouts is great for group video calls, as is Zoom (free for the first 45 minutes) or, if you have access to it through work, Microsoft Teams. New app Houseparty is also a popular choice with young people and has been picking up users very quickly since lockdown was announced. Simply agree a time, send

10 commandments for the public house

Good beer in good company. What could be better? But, as delightful and simple as that scenario is, it’s phenomenally easy to bugger up a good pub. There’s less agreement, however, about what the perfect pub should look like. Back in 1946, George Orwell set out in his classic article, The Moon Under Water, 10 essential features of his ideal pub: since he knew of nowhere that satisfied all of them, his Moon Under Water had to be a wonderful fiction. Some 70 years down the line, many pubs in search of perfection are fiddling with minute details or pointless frippery. For me, once the basics are sorted, it’s all