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The Great Maternity Leave Debate

Child having just been asked to practise the piano

Honey, having just been informed she is to come with me to the office

As ‘working mother’ role models go, the example from Yahoo boss Marissa Mayer is about as welcome as those tiresome celebrities who publicly prance about in skinny jeans about two seconds after giving birth. Mayer, Read More…

Snobbery about Sherlock (aka Benedict Cumberbatch)

Help me, hence, ho!, as Lady Macbeth might say, fainting to the ground. Look to the lady! And to all the other ‘real’ theatregoers who might be currently swooning, because they have all been effectively excluded from experiencing their umpteenth version of Shakespeare’s other great tragedy, Hamlet. Poor things! Read More…

Dear Laura Ingalls Wilder


I have read and reread your entire Little House on the Prarie saga so many times I can quote from it verbatim. I first got the series when I was 10 years old and living in a former mission hospital in rural South Africa. I still have that set, much battered and bent. Read More…

Music, the parental arms race

Our Indian Self Drive Trip Jan 2011 003 Our Indian Self Drive Trip Jan 2011 007

Is your child ABRSM or Trinity? Suzuki, or traditional? And more pertinently, has he or she done Grade Five Theory yet? If you know to what I am referring, Read More…

My new Tumblr page

Or account, or whatever you call it. Pretty nifty, eh? image

The next big row

Move over! The soon to be replaced picture of economist Adam Smith on the £20 note

Move over! The soon to be replaced picture of economist Adam Smith on the £20 note

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the pool of democracy, what with both the Prime Minister and the British National Bird chosen via popular mandate, here we go again. This time, the question is about whose face will be on the new £20 note. Rather thrillingly, it has been decreed that the successor to Adam Smith must be an artist. And we, the public can join in the game. What larks! Read More…

Stars and their Dogs

Disney perhaps wishing he was owned by J.Depp

Disney perhaps wishing he was owned by J.Depp

The whims of famous people may seem as fickle as the seasons, but in one or two things, they are constant. Travelling with animals, for example. As the peerless photograph of Liz Taylor on a yacht moored by Tower Bridge with her dogs reveals, you are not a grade A lister until you have a couple of four leggers in  your entourage. I once had the fortune to interview the great Gregory Peck at a film festival in Cognac. The interview took place on a bench outside a magnificent chateau. After I had finished, we stood up. Read More…

How the French do it

Cooly authoritative. Janet Flanner

Cooly authoritative. Janet Flanner

The Eurovision Fat Contest results are out, and unlike the musical version, we have done rather well. Our men currently heave in at fourth place on the Obesity Scale provided by the World Health Organisation. On the male measuring tape, fattest of all are the Irish, with the Maltese second and the blubbery Icelanders third. Meanwhile our ladies can only manage fifth place, behind sizeable rears belonging to Belgian (top), Bulgarian, Russian and Turkish dames. Welcome to the obesity crisis affecting seemingly the whole of our continent. The future looks even worse. Over the next fifteen years, we are all going to get fatter, it seems, apart from the famously cycle-crazy Netherlanders. One other country might escape the creep of obesity. What are the fat findings for our nearest neighbour and keenest rival? Basically, how do the French fare? Read More…