Cosmo Landesman

With friends like these

There was a time when you couldn’t walk down your local high street and not be set upon by a succession of ‘charity muggers’ — those relentlessly cheery and chatty young men and women who want your money for worthy causes like Cancer Research UK, Greenpeace, Oxfam or Age UK. These days the high streets

A class act | 10 January 2019

The English love a story of posh people behaving badly, especially one that involves sex, drugs or drink — preferably all three at once — in some stately home or Mayfair pad. In 1963, following the Profumo scandal (yes, the one involving Christine Keeler) the nation was gripped by tales of sex parties involving prostitutes,

Virtuous vice

It hasn’t always been easy being a progressive-minded man who prides himself on his sensitivity to issues of race, gender, feminism and sexual exploitation — and still gets to walk on the wild side. Political principles tend to get in the way of politically incorrect passions. You like to watch porn, but as a good

Identity theft

I got some bad news this week. I discovered that I’m a ‘privileged, white male’. It was my agent who broke it to me. We were talking about the trouble he’s having in finding a publisher for my book — a work of non-fiction — when the following exchange took place. Me: What’s wrong with

Desperate housewives

Freud famously asked: what do women want? And I think that after two marriages, a dozen long-term relationships and a thousand-and-one dates, I’ve discovered the answer to that great mystery: they want a man with a beautiful house. In my twenties I thought that what women wanted was a man who was funny, intelligent, sensitive

Problem children

There was a time when middle-class liberals used to complain that the English were a nation of child haters. They packed them off to boarding school as soon as possible and banned them from the dinner table as soon as they got back. Why-oh-why, they asked, can’t the English just relax and enjoy the presence

Bringing sexy back

Sexual intercourse, Philip Larkin famously wrote, began in 1963. And listening to contemporary commentators, you’d think that it came to an end in 2017 with the birth of the #MeToo movement. For these voices of doom, the end of the erotic is nigh; Britain is on the brink of sexual apocalypse. The recent news that

Too kind

I originally thought of calling this piece: ‘Kindness is the New Rock ’n’ Roll’ — but only as a joke. And then I discovered that the rock band Peace have a new album out called Kindness is the New Rock’n’Roll. And they aren’t joking. Actually, it might be more accurate to say that kindness is

Bring back Girl Power

The recent news of a Spice Girls reunion will, I suspect, be greeted by some former fans with nostalgic longing and others with an embarrassed cringe. But whether you’re a fan or foe, I think it’s worth remembering that golden decade of Girl Power — the 1990s — when it was bliss to be young

Do you know a flake fatale?

It was the third time in a row that she had cancelled our date for drinks. The first time she’d forgotten. The second time she remembered a previous engagement and the third time she claimed she’d got the dates mixed up. The next day I got the text she always sends: ‘Sorry darling, I’m such


These are tough times for what I call the #MeToo Men — those white, liberal, high-minded men who pride themselves on being good feminists. Disgusted with Trump and horrified by Harvey, they want to show solidarity and be good allies to the women of the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements. So they wear their feminist

Riot chic

Last weekend, I got into a conversation with the son of an old friend. He’s a nice middle-class boy, mid-twenties, who plays in a band and has lots of tats and piercings. We got into a conversation about summer festivals. I was telling him about a wonderful one I’d been to — the Curious Arts

Toff luck

F. Scott Fitzgerald got it wrong; it’s not the rich who are different from you and me — it’s the posh. There is no social act so rude or outrageous that it cannot be explained and then excused on the grounds that the perpetrator was posh. I was recently at a drinks party and saw

Class act | 24 November 2016

I wish I could say that some of my best friends are working-class, but it’s not true. I do have Dave — my plumber and political sparring partner. Bright and well informed about politics, Dave loves to tease me because I live in Islington, I read the Guardian, I eat organic food and I was

Like Uber, but for hippies

On the same day I put my spare room on Airbnb I also had my first cabshare experience, courtesy of Uber. When I mentioned this to a young friend of mine, he patted me on the back and said, ‘Welcome to the sharing economy!’ The sharing economy is one of those buzz terms that everyone

Public trans sport

I had just sat down on the top deck of a number 38 London bus when I saw him looking at me. He was black and wore a fake-fur coat and orange leggings. There were glittering rings on his fingers, fake diamonds around his neck and bright red lipstick on his lips. In his large