Nigel Farndale is an award-winning journalist who has written for various newspapers and magazines including The Observer, FT, Spectator and Sunday Times. Below are some of his features and columns. To read some of Nigel’s interviews with the great and the good of stage, screen, culture and politics see the Interviews page.

I like you, but not enough to spend 50p on you - 36p yes, 50p no The Christmas card may not have realised it yet, but it is dead. Well, dying. Let’s just say it is drifting in and out of consciousness while muttering incomprehensibly to itself. The main reason, this year at least, is the dramatic increase in the price of second-class stamps, from 36p to 50p. The average number of cards sent per ...
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Canine lovers never get the hang of cats I’m going to be more careful from now on, because it turns out that my wife sometimes reads this column. Apparently, when I wrote last week that the reason we gave up sending Christmas cards was that it was a vaguely depressing and cynical exercise, I was wrong. The reason is to save trees and/or the planet. Anyway, now that I know that she sometimes reads this, ...
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Until I watch the prisoners line up alongside the chains laid out on the ground, I have half imagined that the term 'chain gang’ is being used in a loose and euphemistic way. But no. They are wearing heavy-duty work boots and, as the chains are padlocked around their ankles, they raise their left legs up behind them, bending at the knees like well-trained horses obliging a farrier. What makes this scene even more disturbing ...
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Some people are inescapable fixtures in the cultural ether I nearly fell out of my chair the other day when I got an email from a barrister friend who is so contemptuous of popular culture he rarely, if ever, watches television – and he probably isn’t sure what Twitter is either. “Sorry to hear you cannot make the 28th,” he wrote, “no doubt you have to go off and interview Tulissa (sic) about her bejazzelling, ...
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It is important to have people like Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary around who can say the unsayable Apart from in bad turbulence, when I would still much rather be somewhere else, I am OK with flying these days. But I used to have a problem with it and would have various rituals that helped me cope, such as keeping my feet flat on the floor, pointing straight ahead. For those who can’t relate to aerophobia ...
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Boris Johnson has been wearing hats like they are going out of fashion, which they are. According to Nick Robinson’s new book, Live From Downing Street, when David Cameron went off for his hug-a-husky photo-opportunity to the Norwegian glaciers in 2006, he refused to wear a hat, even though it was -25C. The reason for this masochistic obstinacy? Well, it seems he was mindful of the PR mistake his predecessor William Hague made when he ...
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The television presenter launched into a furious rant when she went back to her old school to address the pupils Oh to have been a bluebottle on the wall when the television presenter Fiona Phillips went back to her old school in Southampton to give a rousing speech to the pupils. The headmistress was no doubt beaming with pride as this successful Old Girl made her way to the podium and tapped the microphone. And ...
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Reagan and Bush trusted him. Bill Clinton feared him. Opponents of the war in Iraq blamed him. But why didn’t Colin Powell seize power when he had the chance? Having read that General Colin Powell insists on punctuality, I arrive an hour before my appointment at his office – which is in a leafy part of Washington DC – planning to find a quiet corner to go through my notes as I wait. There is ...
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We all think we know our history, but how would you fare if you had to sit a 'citizenship test’ like Prime Minister David Cameron was set on the Letterman show? David Cameron’s appearance on 'The David Letterman Show’ has had the unintended consequence of making us feel sorry for him. After all, it hardly seemed fair to spring those abstruse British history questions on him like that, even if he does have a first ...
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With her £1 million bathtub and 100 (and counting) pairs of shoes, Tamara Ecclestone seems to want for nothing – well, nothing except the love of an honest man. Nigel Farndale meets an heiress in search of her happy-ever-after. Before I meet Tamara Ecclestone, I meet her dog, a small and, as it turns out, territorial long-haired chihuahua. He has tracked me down to her upstairs sitting-room in Chelsea and is yapping at me in ...
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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 ...
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Nigel Farndale is surprised to find a somewhat sympathetic Salman Rushdie in an episode of BBC One's Imagine... about the writer's fatwa. Imagine… (Wednesday, BBC One) achieved something remarkable: it made Salman Rushdie seem sympathetic. This, after all, is a man whose new memoir about the fatwa is written in the third person. The third person! Who does that? As a friend of mine noted, instead of referring to himself as “he” throughout, it should ...
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How did a quadriplegic French aristocrat and his Arabic ex-con carer become unlikely friends, then a box-office sensation? Meet the real life stars of ‘Untouchable’. The second thing you notice about Philippe Pozzo di Borgo is his smile – it is engaging and generous. The first is his wheelchair. The 61-year-old French aristocrat and former director of the Pommery champagne house, has been in one since a paragliding accident left him a quadriplegic in 1993 ...
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Just because Jean-Paul Sartre didn’t actually say 'hell is other people’ doesn’t mean it isn’t true. The most famous thing that Jean-Paul Sartre never said was: hell is other people. Well, he did sort of say it, in one of his plays, but he didn’t mean it, and the translation from the French didn’t help matters. He was thinking more about the way we judge ourselves through the eyes of others. But just because he ...
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Justifying his actions the other day, the captain of the Costa Concordia came up with a euphemism that is deserving of canonical status, by which I mean, it’s a belter. He said there had been “a breakdown in the interaction between human beings”. In that phrase you can almost hear the scrape of metal against rock, smell the hot grease on the winches as the lifeboats are lowered. It ranks with Alan Clark’s admission during ...
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