Low life

Not skunk as we know it – smoking the stuff is bad news

The perils of smoking three-year-old Glaswegian skunk

10 November 2018 9:00 am

Three years ago we were given a bag of skunk, Catriona and I, provenance Glasgow. It was one gigantic dried…

Back to the disappointingly familiar, disappointingly limited wares in the half-dozen shops that close most afternoons and sometimes capriciously all day

40-plus reasons to love and hate France

3 November 2018 9:00 am

I apologised, was gladly granted an indulgence, and on Sunday I packed a small bag and reached into a drawer…

28th October 1914: British soldiers lined up in a narrow trench during World War I. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

My first world war obsession

27 October 2018 9:00 am

My reactionary first world war reading jag continues. The literature is vast, but so is my capacity and fascination. I…

Guns and gin: just another Spectator Wine Club lunch

20 October 2018 9:00 am

East of London the Thames broadens dramatically to a surreal waste of mud and sewage-coloured water lined with shipping-container dumps.…

A pub brawl certainly livened up a boring football match

13 October 2018 9:00 am

I told Oscar to wait outside and I went in and said to the barman: ‘Would it be all right…

The English-Scottish gender divide

6 October 2018 9:00 am

Once the house move was completed, Catriona’s oldest and best Scottish friends, two of them, came to stay for a…

450 bottles of red? What more could I want from a neighbour

29 September 2018 9:00 am

I have a friend here in this French village to which we moved just over a week ago. He is…

A foretaste of Frexit

22 September 2018 9:00 am

Moving day. The contents of a hillside shack to be moved four miles to a cave house perched high on…

Back from the brink

15 September 2018 9:00 am

The long table was set out under four beautifully pollarded plane trees festooned with coloured lanterns and red balloons. Twenty…

For the love of gin

8 September 2018 9:00 am

I’d missed the train, and the next was due in 45 minutes, so I popped into the nearby salon for…

What would Oscar tell his dad first about our eventful fortnight in the south of France?

1 September 2018 9:00 am

I was present in the room when Oscar encountered his father for the first time since returning from his fortnight…

A spiritual journey to see some very expensive paintings

25 August 2018 9:00 am

The Villa Carnignac art gallery is located on a Mediterranean island off the French Riviera called Porquerolles. Purpose-built to show…

Why the kindness of strangers trumps a pagan festival

18 August 2018 9:00 am

The entire Alpine village, contemptuously dismissed recently in an online tourist guide as a nondescript centre of old peasants and…

How to survive a French heatwave

11 August 2018 9:00 am

Me in a black polo-neck jumper looking sour; Oscar wearing a floppy hat; her youngest daughter nude and stooping to…

Confessions of a cave-dweller continued

4 August 2018 9:00 am

The cave house next to ours is let out to weekly renters. A green-eyed German with a ponytail came out…

At 62, I’m looking for a hole in a rock

28 July 2018 9:00 am

Towering above this medieval French village is dun-coloured cliff of volcanic rock, dramatically floodlit at night, topped by two ancient…

Portrait of a seven-year-old state-run child

21 July 2018 9:00 am

Saturday morning. Quarter to 12. Sit-down fish and chips at the Silver Grill: me, Oscar and Oscar’s cousin Atticus. Atticus…

The anatomy of a Spectator summer party

14 July 2018 9:00 am

I flew from Marseille to Gatwick, rode the Gatwick Express to Victoria, and walked down the thoroughfare of Victoria Street…

Up close with the Rolling Stones

7 July 2018 9:00 am

At 7 p.m., panting, I knocked on the door of room 201 of the Hotel InterContinental, Marseille, expecting it to…

Why I was proud to be a dustman

30 June 2018 9:00 am

I heard the last and final call for flight 6114 to Nice while shuffling forward in the unexpectedly long queue…

Cancer? I wouldn’t have missed it for the world

23 June 2018 9:00 am

Homesick for England, family and friends, I flew back, and the next day went for a long walk with my…

Donald Hankey: a remarkable – and neglected – English voice

16 June 2018 9:00 am

Last year the BBC radio drama department received 3,797 scripts from hopeful authors, of which just 33 were recommended to…

Why did a Ukrainian oligarch invite me to his party in Paris, and pay for me to get there?

9 June 2018 9:00 am

On Monday night I went to a party at the Crazy Horse nightclub in Paris thrown by the oligarch Vitaly…

Was our Airbnb host a closet toreador?

2 June 2018 9:00 am

We were standing in the tiny hall: me, Catriona, Annette and her toy Yorkshire terrier, Ahmed. It was our first…

Catriona’s first bullfight – but would it be her last?

26 May 2018 9:00 am

Six Partido de Resina (formerly Pablo Romero) bulls for Rafaelillo, Thomas Dufau and Juan Leal. The first corrida of the…