Susan Hill

Susan Hill

Susan Hill’s latest novel is A Change of Circumstance.

Could prayer cure a sore throat? 

This Saturday, go to London’s oldest Catholic church, St Etheldreda’s in Ely Place, Holborn, and you will find a gathering of singers, along with actors, announcers and other public speakers, who have come to have their throats blessed. Two crossed candles are held up by the priest and either these or a piece of wick

The pure joy of grandchildren

‘My grandchildren are my world,’ writes a woman on social media, summing up a certain type of grandparent. There are, however, two ways of looking at it and I see many whose worlds revolve around their grandchildren because they have no choice. I used to chat with them at the school gate. If their families

Laughter is the key to surviving Christmas

Joy. Family. Love. Lights. Stars. Festivity. And yes, all of those, if you’re lucky, and they are happy words, words that give you that fuzzy glow. Others come fast down the track, of course. War. Disasters. Accidents. Distress. Tears.  I am old now so my most familiar Christmas word is ‘memory’, although I live in

The joy of a modern house

We have been in our new home for four months and although getting here was hell, the living is almost heaven. I am rather surprised to be in a modern house after 40 years of living in ones built centuries ago. How would I feel without any nooks and crannies, twisting staircases, elm floors and

RIP Fay Weldon, a force of nature

Novelists can often be disappointingly unremarkable as people but occasionally one, like Fay Weldon, is a force of nature. She seemed to pack dozen larger than life women into one, in every sense. She used to say ‘that was after I became a fat girl’, and that she chose to write most about the sort

Christmas Special

65 min listen

Welcome to the special Christmas episode of The Edition! Up first: What a year in politics it has been. 2022 has seen five education secretaries, four chancellors, three prime ministers and two monarchs. But there is only one political team that can make sense of it all. The Spectator’s editor Fraser Nelson, deputy political editor Katy Balls

Why do patients need to know they’re dying? 

Old people are being stranded in hospital, diagnosed with terrible diseases but unable to recover enough to go home. Dr Adrian Boyle, the new president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, has said that NHS hospitals ‘are like lobster traps… easy to get into but hard to get out of’. Might it not be

The truth about ‘the most haunted house in England’

Place and story are little remembered now. The rectory in Essex was severely damaged by fire in 1939. But any old house with an unpleasant atmosphere, especially isolated, damp, dark and unmodernised, was once described as ‘like Borley Rectory’. Judging by this long ‘story of a ghost story’, the place showed its true nature from

Home remedies are good for us – and the NHS

Today’s medical treatment for major ills is unrecognisable, in sophistication and efficacy, from anything available during the immediate post-war period. We all live longer, pain is far better controlled, and antibiotics save lives – though fewer than they once did because of the cavalier way they have been overused. I did not take any at

The day I found a postcard from Virginia Woolf

A dispiriting week. Three months ago, skips arrived, into which were cast the detritus of a decade. Charity shops were donated so much that they began to wave us away. Family welcomed furniture while, oddly, refusing to accept their own toys, clothes and school photographs which had been stored with us ‘temporarily’. Book collections were

My love affair with the Wolseley

I was sitting alone at a small table in the Wolseley, Piccadilly, waiting for my supper and feeling a sense of absolute contentment. The evening buzz in that theatre-set of a restaurant has always been slightly more subdued than the lunchtime one. The lighting is lower; there are candles, there is calm. On my right,

Can I really be turning 80?

A princess of Hanover wrote in her diary: ‘My 30th birthday. There must be some mistake.’ Substitute 30th for 80th and you have how I feel this week. But age is all relative, being dependent on your genes, immune system and how it was primed in childhood; on your location, your income and luck. I

The wonderful ghosts of Christmas past

The past shifts about like clouds, now dense, now parting for a memory to shine out, perhaps randomly, but bright as the sun. Here is the Sheffield Christmas when I was four and slept in Great-Aunt Florence’s room, on an eiderdown beside her bed, in the terraced house that smelled of coal smoke — the

East Anglia is the place for birds

I first visited Orford in 1970, at peak Cold War when this stretch of the East Anglian coast was one of the most dangerous places to be, so that for three months of each winter living in Aldeburgh, I was perfectly positioned for maximum danger between Orford Ness with its secret atomic weapon testing, and

We all love a poltergeist story

There are fashions in the paranormal as in everything else. Since the famous Enfield hauntings of the late 1970s, poltergeists seem to have gone quiet, or at least unreported; but before then they were everywhere. In 1938, poltergeists kicked off in Thornton Heath, Surrey, and a Jewish-Hungarian journalist and psychic investigator, Nandor Fodor, was alerted

The dying need real conversation, not false cheeriness

A nurse friend recently finished six weeks in a Covid intensive care unit where she witnessed many deaths and always ensured that nobody died alone. She sat holding a hand, listening, reassuring. Now on leave, she is writing down some of her experiences with the dying. A wise priest I knew said that no matter

There’s no point in bishops – Covid has shown us so

It is a relief to parents that young children are allowed out a bit now as the length of the lockdown has wreaked havoc with tempers. Birthdays have been particularly difficult. Zoom parties, with every guest in their little on-screen box like stamps in an album, are a poor substitute for a roomful of overexcited

I’m sick of people patronising Captain Sir Tom Moore

Nobody earns the right to respect just by having lived into old age, whenever that begins — it has happened by chance and by virtue of having dodged a few bullets. But everyone has the right to be treated with good manners and kindness by those with any power over them — even prisoners and

The lost world of lockdown

It started when, the day after the announcement of some lockdown easing, I drove five miles along the coast road. For seven weeks there had been barely another car, and now it was like a normal pre-pandemic morning. Our little town was no longer deserted, and there were queues for newsagent and bank. Many holiday