A pandemic diary

‘My concentration seems to be shot this year for anything except work. I have entirely failed to learn a new language, finish a novel, or watch anything more demanding than repeats of Morse’

Sex matters

“It’s been quite the month for the Gender Critical community”


‘I have barely worn trousers for five months now. In the Zoom era no-one sees below the fifth button of your shirt. You could get away with wearing nothing at all’

Bearded diplomacy

‘The illusion of control that dictatorships offer is just that. They promise their acolytes eternal life in exchange for silence. But silence is expensive’

Spirit of the age

‘I’m not sure that “gender studies” are having a terribly good war. A professor tweeted—Pat Robertson style—that Covid-19 “took its revenge” on men after the domestic abuse they inflicted on women’

Diary: the limits of liberalism

‘Many of those who usually insist ministers must “listen to the experts” are among those who now say Boris should ignore them. Armchair generals and football managershave become armchair virologists and epidemiologists’

Uncovering hidden family roots

‘I’m 52, damn it, even if I feel frustratingly closer to 82 on the bad days when my fingers are too weak to type or too stiff to do up buttons’

An oversized addition to a collection of Victoriana

'As I have now discovered, moving a life-size marble statue is a complicated and expensive business'

Political homelessness galls; private pleasures keep me sane

‘I am an instinctive, conventional, tribal Conservative voter. But now I just can’t bear even to listen to the shenanigans in Parliament a moment longer’

Breakfast, diabetes research, and the right to make bad jokes

'The Today Programme will survive John Humphrys leaving but will we all survive the death of the right to make poor jokes?'

Underrated: Abroad

The ravenous longing for the infinite possibilities of “otherwhere”

The king of cakes

"Yuletide revels were designed to see you through the dark days — and how dark they seem today"