Peter Hitchens

The mother of three - mild -mannered, tall, greying Louise Brooks bob - is wondering whether she should really be telling me all this: about how she met her husband when they were both Trotskyite students at York University in the early Seventies; how they lived together before getting married in 1983; how they moved here, to this leafy suburb of Oxford, 15 years ago when their first child was born and she decided to give up her job as a solicitor; how they first became disillusioned with socialism Read more [...]

John Mortimer

From his father, as Sir John Mortimer cheerfully tells everyone, he inherited bronchial asthma, glaucoma and a tendency for his retinas to become detached. He was also bequeathed a number of walking-sticks. On an autumnal Tuesday morning, as I approach the house his father built on a wooded rise near Henley-on-Thames, Sir John waves one of these sticks at me from his study window, which proves that his sight can't be as bad as he makes out. His father went blind in middle life, though that was never Read more [...]

Jeffrey Archer

The lift glides to a halt at the penthouse suite on the 13th floor. A butler leads the way along a panelled corridor and into a spacious, glass-walled living-room. Lord Archer is standing in a rhombus of sunlight, his back to the glinting spires of Westminster. He raises his right hand, palm flat, and barks: 'Stop!' My first thought is that he has gone mad. Actually nuts. He doesn't like to talk about it, but he used to be a policeman, spent five months in the Met before resigning in 1960. Now Read more [...]

Gore Vidal

On a cliff-top high above the Amalfi coast an awning flaps lazily, stirred by a welcome breeze, and then is still once more. It shares the temperament of the aged American bachelor standing under it, on his balcony, pondering the cobalt-blue sea half a mile below. 'You know,' Gore Vidal says with a heavy sigh, 'every morning at ten a tourist boat sails past and I have to listen to a woman telling my life story over a Tannoy.' Pause. 'It is followed by another boat which tells the same story in Italian.' Quite Read more [...]

George Weidenfeld

Your first impressions upon entering Lord Weidenfeld's stately Chelsea apartment are puzzling - but not contradictory. A butler greets you at the door and as he takes your coat you can't help noticing the erotic art hanging on the wall. It is by Klimt. Of naked women. In lascivious poses. With pubic hair. The butler leads you from the hall to the airy, book-lined study, which looks more like the smoking room of a gentlemen's club. There is an ornate marble fireplace with brass and leather fender, Read more [...]

D. M. Thomas

Luminous white hair, dandruff on black polo neck, florid complexion, thick lips cracked and bruised, fingers stained yellow from smoking... The 64-year-old Cornishman drinking Rioja and chain-smoking Marlboro Lights at the table by the window is either a broken-veined pervert or a literary genius. As it happens, DM Thomas has been described as both - female critics tend to favour the former theme, male critics the latter. Actually, what he looks most like is the survivor of a bomb blast, emerging Read more [...]

Note to Zadie Smith: the Left can be just as nasty as the Right

Zadie Smith’s point is a good one. Left and Right should make more of an effort to meet Though I can’t say for sure, I suspect that the unsmiling novelist Zadie Smith may be more Left-wing than Right. This suspicion is prompted by something she said the other day: “I would love to meet a nice, reasonable, intelligent Conservative who’s a lovely person, but where are they?” Has she not heard of Matthew Parris? That is what he is for. As a matter of urgency the man must be rushed, Read more [...]