After Life

Damian Thompson

Stephen O’Leary, my brilliant friend

One afternoon in June 1995, I found myself trapped in the Bodhi Tree, a stucco-fronted bookstore on Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood where New Age wisdom-seekers sip herbal tea while discussing the latest ravings of Shirley MacLaine. I was freaking out because the professor I’d travelled 6,000 miles to meet had apparently stood me up.

Real life

It’s pointless arguing with an Irishman

‘Why are those pipes sticking out of the wall like that?’ said the bathroom fitter, surveying the work the plumber had done. He stood musing over the way the tubing poked through a stud wall at an upwards angle so you couldn’t attach it to a sink unless you bent it round and then he

Wine Club

A vinous scoop for Spectator readers

Klaxon alert! We’ve a bona fide Spectator scoop and if you love Chateau Musar as much as I think you do – and all Speccie readers love Ch. Musar – then please get your skates on! Our good friends at Mr Wheeler are giving us ten days before anyone else (including the Wine Society) in

No sacred cows

I’ve found the cure for climate anxiety

A new documentary, Climate: The Movie, by the maverick filmmaker Martin Durkin, is becoming a phenomenon, though it’s received almost no publicity in the mainstream media. It rejects the idea that we’re in the midst of a ‘climate emergency’, so that’s hardly surprising. But it has already racked up millions of views online and been

Dear Mary

Dear Mary: how do I politely ditch my hairdresser?

Q. I have just returned from a holiday where I was the guest of someone extremely rich. She was emphatic that everything would be covered and I must not even think of bringing a present. However, after one lunch in a restaurant, I felt driven to make a gesture and quietly asked the waiter for


A fitting overture to Holy Week

Holy Week, but not everywhere. After reading that the diocese of Birmingham wanted to hire staff to help with deconstructing whiteness, only one conclusion is possible. Large parts of the C of E have become a theological and liturgical wilderness. The Devil is in charge and it is unholy week, 52 weeks a year. Anglican friends assure me

Mind your language

Why does Elon Musk see legacies as leftovers?

‘Is this legacy beetroot?’ asked my husband, poking a yellowish slice on his plate in a restaurant. He meant heritage beetroot, a ludicrous enough phrase. But legacy has been extending the hedges round its semantic field, so his question may sound normal in a few years’ time. A report in the Telegraph the other day

The Wiki Man

The case for driverless cars

I can’t remember the name of the comedian, but he had a wonderful ambition, one which will sadly now never be realised. He wanted to interview Neil Armstrong for an hour on live television without mentioning the moon landings once. I wish he’d succeeded. In fact Armstrong might have leapt at the opportunity to pontificate

The turf

The battle of the racehorse trainers

A famous American horse-handler – after seeing an English trainer who had been his assistant starting to win races back in the UK – declared: ‘I taught him everything he knows.’ He then added: ‘But not everything I know.’ With a friendly but intense end-of-season battle this year for the Jump Trainers’ Championship between Paul