Ysenda Maxtone Graham

How to get rid of your saggy tattoo

Sagging angels, wilting lilies, drooping lines from love sonnets, withered swallows, flaccid snakes, limp dragons, shrivelled babies’ names: this will be the view inside the British bathroom, and at the British seaside, and in British hospital beds and morgues, in 2060, when today’s tattoo-wearers now in their prime will be in their seventies and eighties. 

Hell is a heat pump

‘So, as Rishi Sunak has announced that we’re now allowed to keep installing new gas boilers till 2035, and they last about 15 years, that means I’ll be able to keep a gas boiler till 2050, so I might even be allowed to die with a gas boiler still going in my house, and may

Why are cathedrals cutting ties with choral schools?

There’s worrying news for all who care about the incomparable cultural phenomenon that is the singing of choral evensong in British cathedrals every day of the week. Canterbury cathedral announced in March that it’s cutting ties with its local independent choir school, St Edmund’s, ending a happy relationship that has lasted for 50 years. St

A vision of what it means to be blind

To give us a sense of precisely how blind Selina Mills is she asks us to cover our right eye completely with our right hand and put a fist up in front of our left eye, so it blocks our central sight. ‘Now imagine the remaining sight is murky and blurry, as if covered in

The disappointing truth about Aperol spritz

I’m in Tuscany, where the piazzas glow orange at dusk, not only from the sunsets but also from the profusion of Aperol spritz. The bright orange drink has exploded in popularity in the past five years. Everyone’s drinking it: young women, middle-aged couples, groups of wrinkly tanned men, all sucking from straws sticking out of

A last-minute escape from the Holocaust

At the beginning of his profoundly moving memoir of his grandparents, parents, the Holocaust and the Gulag, Daniel Finkelstein writes: This the story of how my family took a journey which ended happily in Hendon, eating crusty bread rolls with butter in the café near the M1, but on the way took a detour through

The sadness of Britain’s seaside resorts

Now the exhilaration kicks in, the lightness of heart, a joyfulness surging along the warmed blood vessels and tingling extremities: every cell feels as if charged with new life. There has been a ritual, a sacrifice, an offering to the waves of flesh and pain, and in return, there is restoration, life given back. Thus

The lost shepherds

40 min listen

On the podcast this week: In his cover piece for the magazine, journalist Dan Hitchens examines whether Archbishop Justin Welby and Pope Francis can heal the divisions threatening to tear apart the Church of England and the Catholic Church. He is joined by Telegraph columnist Tim Stanley to ask whether these two men – once heralded as

Help! I’m trapped in a 15-minute city

It’s a nasty moment when you receive a letter informing you that a fortnight ago, at a specific number of minutes past an hour, your car was photographed turning into a side road which, at the time, you had no idea you weren’t allowed to turn into.   You vaguely recall the junction. There was no

Is Putin winning?

37 min listen

This week: Is Putin winning? In his cover piece for the magazine, historian and author Peter Frankopan says that Russia is reshaping the world in its favour by cultivating an anti-Western alliance of nations. He is joined by Ukrainian journalist – and author of The Spectator’s Ukraine In Focus newsletter – Svitlana Morenets, to discuss whether this

My search for London’s cheapest flat

Maternal nocturnal worry number 57a: how are our offspring going to get their toes on any rung of the property ladder if they want to carry on living in London? I’m sure thousands of us mothers of young adults lie awake at 2.30 a.m. contemplating the fact that a one-bedroom flat in Leytonstone now costs

Will shoe-polishing be given the boot for good?

As I digest the news that Kiwi are ceasing the sale of its shoe polish in the UK, due to plummeting demand in the age of trainers, I find myself in mourning chiefly for the tin. What will the ritual of shoe-polishing feel like when it no longer starts with the thumb-against-index-finger rub of the

The puppetry renaissance

Advance ticket sales for My Neighbour Totoro, the Royal Shakespeare Company’s current production running till mid-January, beat all Barbican box-office records. I went on a rainy weekday evening last month, and the place was heaving with Hayao Miyazaki fans of all ages, lots of them clutching furry Totoros they’d bought in the theatre shop.  It’s

The etiquette of canapés

Canapés are one of life’s delights and surprises – surprises because drinks party invitations usually give nothing away. Perhaps because ‘nibbles’ is such a hideous word, or perhaps just because of invitation convention, hosts tend simply to put ‘Drinks, 6.30 to 8.30’ on the Paperless Post card. So you arrive with no idea whether you’re

At sea: can Sunak navigate the migrant crisis?

36 min listen

On this week’s podcast: Can Rishi Sunak steady the ship? Patrick O’Flynn argues in his cover piece for The Spectator that the asylum system is broken. He is joined by Sunder Katwala, director of the think tank British Future, to consider what potential solutions are open to the Prime Minister to solve the small boats crisis (00:52).