Nigel Farndale is an award-winning journalist who writes for various newspapers and magazines including The Observer, FT, Spectator and Country Life. Below are some of his recent articles. To read some of Nigel’s interviews with the great and the good of stage, screen, culture and politics see the Interviews page.
The thought that there may be a real-life Nigel Dempster out there somewhere seems preposterous. Scary even. It's because he's been doing what he does for so long: 35 years. His name has entered the language as a synonym for gossip and because he has become the mould into which every aspiring social diarist is poured, he now looks like a parody of himself: steeped in the social angst, chippiness and sulphur of others. Indeed, when Norman Lamont, the former Chancellor, was introduced to Dempster at Read more [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
The dumb-waiters either side of the pink marble fireplace speak eloquently of the man Dr David Starkey believes himself to be. So do the fresh carnations, the dainty silver spoons arranged on a side table, and the mildewed pages of Shakespeare left lying open near the antique magnifying glass. Here, they say, is an aesthete, a history don, a dandy, even, who can afford to surround himself with 1830s opulence. In vain does the eye search this drawing room in Highbury, north London, for a hint of Read more [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]