A choice of this year’s gift books

Obviously, the best and funniest gift book out this Christmas is my own Still a Bit of Snap in the Celery (Abacus, £16.99), about the horrors and delights of being 60, but I am far too humble and modest to mention it, so I won’t. Very nearly as good is Bob Cryer’s Barry Cryer: Same Time Tomorrow? (Bloomsbury, £20), a timely biography of his father, the legendary comedian and comic writer who died at a great age last year. I knew Barry a little –I used to go up to Hatch End, where he lived, with my friend Mark Mason and meet him in his local pub – and I

Dear Mary: should I ever pay for dinner on a date with a feminist? 

Q. I took a girl out for dinner last week to a rather expensive restaurant. At first we got on well but then the conversation went on to politics and I spent the next 45 minutes listening to a fourth-wave man-hating feminist. Despite her stance that women should share every opportunity that men have (which I agree with incidentally), when the bill came she didn’t even gesture to put her hand in her pocket. Was I right to be so annoyed? – N.F., London SW7 A. I ran this past another fourth-wave feminist. Her view was that the girl’s ideology was not incompatible with your paying for her dinner on

Waiting for the rain that never comes – and for the elections to be over

Kenya After two years of no rain, all colour has drained from the landscape on the farm so that by the time we boarded the bush plane to leave in the bright sun it was as if we were all snow blind. From the air the highlands were waterless and dead until we descended over Kenya’s north shore and the world went green. My late mother’s garden at the beach house swirls with bougainvillea, gardenia, frangipani and allamanda. Green ingots of baobab leaves hang wetly down over green grass and wild flowers which spill down to the high tide mark. We walk among clouds of butterflies with lilac-breasted rollers and

Yoga has become a hot cultish mess

Ommm… are you in the lotus position? Then I’ll begin. The studio was literally Hades, four industrial heaters blasting in each corner. We were crouching on our knees, sweat dripping, foreheads to the floor. It was a weekday morning. Then our instructor said the six words I can never unhear. ‘Flower your anus to the sky,’ he ordered all the middle-aged WFH men in shorts and yummy mummies in crop tops in this crunchy-granola bit of north-west London. He jutted his rock-hard buns heavenwards as an exemplar of the uttana shishosana pose or, as I prefer to call it, ‘kneeling’. When did the lines blur and yoga become a hot