My waspish encounter with Gore Vidal

News of the author's death at the age of 86 brings memories of a tingling sensation under the nose Strange how powerful a sense memory can be. News of Gore Vidal’s death at the age of 86 gave me a tingling sensation under the nose, then I remembered why. I once had an unorthodox journalistic encounter with him at his beautiful palazzo, built into the rocks above the Amalfi coast in Italy. The interview started off conventionally enough, with him being imperious, and not a little pompous, Read more [...]

Coffee wars: No one makes a mocha-ry of Totnes

You know how it is when you drink too much coffee and you start to feel jittery, then your eyes bulge a bit and, before you can say “another grande skinny latte, please”, you have a caffeine-fuelled urge to storm the high street, waving placards, agitating and causing civil unrest? No? Perhaps that’s just the people of Totnes, then. The small and ancient Devonshire town set on the river Dart has 41 establishments where you can buy a coffee, and when it was announced the other day that there Read more [...]

The Olympics are just what we need to bring Yorkshiremen together as a nation

But how would Yorkshire – home to both Arthur Scargill and Eric Pickles – ever agree a national constitution? These Olympics might be just what we need, the glue that will, at last, bring us together as a nation. Because, let’s face it, we Yorkshiremen have always been at each other’s throats. Take our unofficial head of state, Geoffrey Boycott. His whole career has been defined by feuds with fellow Yorkshiremen, from Freddie Trueman to Ray Illingworth. He even dismissed gentle Dickie Read more [...]

UK gun owners

Britain’s growing army of gun owners are much more sensible than their American counterparts. But can the same be said of our gun laws? On the rainy summer’s morning that I arrive at Bisley, a sprawling collection of colonial buildings and rifle ranges set in 3,000 acres of Surrey heathland, news is breaking about a policeman who has been shot dead in Essex. An unfortunate coincidence, this, given that I’ve come here not to write about gun crime but to meet some typical – that is to say, Read more [...]