Elisa Segrave

Elisa Segrave is an author whose books include The Girl from Station X: My Mother's Unknown Life.

The Xi files: how China spies

38 min listen

This week: The Xi files: China’s global spy network. A Tory parliamentary aide and an academic were arrested this week for allegedly passing ‘prejudicial information’ to China. In his cover piece Nigel Inkster, MI6’s former director of operations and intelligence, explains the nature of this global spy network: hacking, bribery, manhunts for targets and more.

Israel’s challenge

42 min listen

On the podcast: Anshel Pfeffer writes The Spectator’s cover story this week. He voices concern that support from Israel’s allies might begin to waver if they don’t develop a viable plan after the war finishes. Paul Wood – former BBC foreign correspondent – and Dennis Ross – former Middle East coordinator under President Clinton and advisor to

How to date a widower

When is it acceptable to consider dating a widower? How do you know if they are still grieving and not ready to move on? According to statistics, men die earlier than women, so I was surprised this year to meet several whose wives had died before them. Divorced since the early 1990s, I had no

How an animal psychic helped find a missing dog

It was more in a spirit of desperation that I decided to contact an animal psychic after my friends’ terrier Lark disappeared. Lark vanished one evening from their house. She was chipped, and her collar had their number on it, but as the days went by no one called. Lark’s photo was put on Facebook and

My pilgrimage to Lourdes

‘Will someone steal my coat?’ ‘No, you’re on a holy pilgrimage,’ my son’s Irish carer-companion Rosemarie reassured him. We were going to Lourdes, where in 1858 a poor peasant girl, Bernadette Soubirous, had 18 visions of the Virgin Mary. At Stansted I’d lost a tooth. I had a bad knee and an ancient foot injury.

Caught in a web of lies: The Guest, by Emma Cline, reviewed

This deeply unpleasant novel kept me reading all night. Alex, 22, preys on rich men as an upmarket prostitute, formerly in New York and now in resorts such as the Hamptons. She is a thief and addict, sneaking her boyfriend’s sleeping pills, his valuable watch, a former room-mate’s medication, random jewellery and any available alcohol,

Why aren’t mistresses a secret any more?

I was shocked at a party recently when a woman I hardly know announced to me and another guest that she was the ‘mistress’ of a certain man in the room. I discussed it with my American friend in a local Italian afterwards. Holly took a robust view. ‘Since when does a mistress reveal herself

School trip: My déjeuner sur l’herbe

In 1966 we were 17 and about to do A-levels and leave our convent school for ever at the end of that summer term. Two girls were having a lesbian affair, another had been tempted to sleep with a boy, dramatically confessing this to our head nun, Mother Benedicta, in Mother B’s terrifying private room

Cop out: Boris’s battle to save the climate summit

32 min listen

In this week’s episode: Can Cop26 deliver on its grand promises? In our cover story this week, Fraser Nelson assesses the state of the upcoming Cop26 summit in Glasgow and questions their very effectiveness in dealing with climate change in a world of global players with very different priorities. He is joined on the podcast

Fight club: when book groups turn nasty

‘Small friendly village book club is looking for three or four new members.’ I was infuriated to read this in our village newsletter, an alternative to the parish magazine. I had just been ‘cancelled’ by this ‘friendly’ club from featuring at one of their evenings. A text, sent by a hitherto pleasant woman who’d liked

On the run from the Nazis: a Polish family’s protracted ordeal

Writers of memoirs are often praised for their honesty — but how do we know? I found I did believe Frances Stonor Saunders for readily admitting her ambivalence towards her father, who died in 1997 of Alzheimer’s. She is ‘secretly furious’ with him for ‘not telling his story’. But when his suitcase — almost certainly

A quick fix: how Boris and Carrie can bring Dilyn the dog to heel

A lot of nonsense is being written about Dilyn, the adorable Jack Russell owned by Boris and Carrie, a lookalike for my dog, Perry, now nearly 16. Is Dilyn the currently subdued Boris’s alter ego, one journalist wondered. We read that Dilyn allegedly humped Dominic Cummings’s leg, and at Chequers ‘mounted’ a stool made from

A beastly cold country: Britain in 1962

Like this author, I was happily snowbound at a beloved grandparent’s house during the big freeze that began on Boxing Day 1962 and ended in early March the following year. I was in Sussex, she at Sissinghurst in Kent. Juliet Nicolson, then eight, describes the morning of 27 December: ‘The snow was still there, turning

Peregrine Worsthorne: 1923-2020

Peregrine Worsthorne died peacefully at home on 4 October 2020. Two weeks earlier I had visited him with my son Nicholas, at his home in Buckinghamshire where he lived with wife Lucinda Lambton and devoted young Croatian carer Luca. It was a beautiful day and we arrived for lunch after a long drive. Perry was

Lockdown can be overwhelming for those with autism

National Autism Month in April coincided with our strictest phase of lockdown. My son, 36, who has Asperger’s, has consequently been unable to stick to all his routines — one being the Sunday car boot sale on Brighton Racecourse — and I was worried about how he’d cope. He suggested we watch classic EastEnders together

Wisdom of the ages: we must keep listening to the elderly

My beloved grandmother died at 90, and my mother at 89, after having Alzheimer’s for 11 years. So I am not rattled by the old; I find their memory lapses challenging rather than frightening. (If I were the full-time carer of an elderly husband, it might be another matter. One woman described it as being

All by myself

As I get older I find the idea of wanting to be in a couple more and more bizarre. I’m not talking about sex — which anyway often becomes less frequent after years of familiarity — or marrying for financial security. No, I’m puzzled about people’s obsession with getting a permanent companion. There are all

Drunken confessions

I have always found the parable of the Prodigal Son sickeningly unfair, and I felt this again while driving a close relative down a motorway in a frightful gale at night to a residential rehab. -That morning I’d had an emergency consultation in London on behalf of the said relative, with the head of the