Are we all becoming hermits now?

Long before Covid, wi-fi and Deliveroo, Badger in The Wind in the Willows showed us how to live beyond the manifold fatuities of this gimcrack world. Cosily tucked into his burrow with a roaring fire and well-stocked cellar, he was unbothered by importunate weasels and other denizens of the Wild Wood. He padded his underground realm for six months a year in dressing gown and down-at-heel slippers not just because he was a hibernating animal but out of existential temperament. ‘Badger hates Society,’ explained Rat. But, really, don’t we all? Not for him the ‘Poop! Poop!’ of Mr Toad, always going places and doing stuff. More Badger’s style was the

What the Queen will miss most in self-isolation

Seven hundred pages of memoir is stretching it a bit even for an ex-inhabitant of No. 10 with David Cameron’s need for self-justification. Halfway through For the Record I was tempted to skip a chapter or two, but then I encountered a passage that made the slog worthwhile. Talking about his relationship with the Queen, her 12th prime minister notes two essentials in preparing for the weekly audience. First check the BBC news headlines because she is always formidably well informed. Second get up to speed on what is happening in the horse-racing world. (He used to check with his bloodstock agent friend Tom Goff whether one of her horses

My love affair with Hannah Arendt

The three of us — me, Catriona and her daughter Skye — were having a wash and brush-up before going out for a meal ata restaurant in the village, when we learnt that President Macron’s smooth dishonest face had just addressed the nation on TV and told it that he had ordered bars, cafés and restaurants and all places of entertainment to be closed until further notice. The news both exhilarated and disappointed: real life had begun in earnest but the bars were shut. Skye assembled a round of gin and tonics and we three settled down in a row with our feet on the coffee table to make our